The hymn below is generally only sung this time of year, but should be sung with more regularity. It is a Thanksgiving hymn entitled “Now Thank We All Our God,” written by Martin Rinckart. Most of Rinckart’s ministry was encompassed during the Thirty Year’s War and the plague. His personal resources were limited, he was overwhelmed with his work for war refugees, and he spent most of his time conducting funerals due to the plague. In a situation where there seemed to be nothing to be thankful for, he penned these words:
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
In the first line of the hymn, Rinckart speaks not only of being thankful to God, but tells us how we should be thankful to God. He writes to be thankful, “with heartand handsand voices.”
He begins by saying we give God thanksgiving with our hearts. Anything we say or do is meaningless to God unless it comes from a sincere heart. Our songs of praise, the lifting of our hands, the dancing before the Lord, the liturgy, the rituals: nothing truly counts as thanksgiving unless thankfulness is the sincere posture of our hearts.
Rinckart then moves to our hands. I believe this refers to much more than just the lifting of our hands in thanksgiving to God as we worship. To thank God with our hands means to live in response to our recognition of all He has done for us. As we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, give shelter to the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and the imprisoned, we are thanking God with the work of our hands.
After thanking God with our hearts and with our hands, we also thank Him with our voices. This of course refers to the songs of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving we sing as worship, but it doesn’t end there. The book of James says that blessing and cursing should not come out of the same mouth. God is not concerned only with our words of praise and thanksgiving directed toward Him, but He is concerned with every word that is formed on our tongue.
In the midst of deprivation, suffering, and death, Rinckart understood what true thanksgiving is, and how we should be thankful. Thanksgiving is not simply a day, a song, or a moment. True thanksgiving is offered from the heart, through our hands, and with our voices. And, God is worthy of all our Thanksgiving!
By: Jimmy Aycock