During the Great Pestilence of 1637, Martin Rinkart, age 31, found himself in a distressing situation as the only clergyperson in Eilenburg, Germany. The plague had broken out in this war torn community, and all of the other clergymen had either died or departed.
Left alone to meet the vast spiritual needs of the entire community, Rinkart officiated 4480 funerals ( 40-50 per day) including that of his first wife.
A severe famine followed the epidemic, and the good pastor rose to this challenge, working with town leaders to provide relief and organize assistance. He also led negotiations to secure peace with their enemies.
In the darkest hours of the epidemic, young Pastor Rinkart served as a beacon of light and hope for others. It was during this time that he wrote the beloved hymn "Nun dankket alle Gott" (Now Thank We All our God), which is now often sung in Thanksgiving worship services around the world.
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.