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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Approaching Thanksgiving we may find ourselves all too caught up in the family gathering and food or ballgames or just the chaos which happens when families come together.

Edward Winslow (link 1; link 2)wrote in a letter back to England a few words which we should often ask ourselves. “These things I thought good to let you understand . . . that you might on our behalf give God thanks who hath dealt so favourably with us.” What are the “these things” for you and your family?

Over at iGrace Music blog they draw our attention to two hymns.

Of the hymn Now Thank We All Our God, we find these words: The following is from Catherine Winkworth’s “Christian Singers Of Germany.” She is the one who translated the hymn in the 19th century.
This classic hymn was written by a pastor (Martin Rinkart) who suffered greatly through the 30 Years War in Germany during which (through war and famine) 4/5 of the population of Germany died. He himself was in extreme poverty and when the pastors of his 2 neighboring towns died he ended up having to do the work of 3 pastors, burying 4,000 people in 1637 (50 per day!) – including his wife – when the plague hit. This was followed by a famine so sever that 30-40 people could be seen in streets fighting to the death over the corpse of a dead cat. And then right after this the Swedes invaded and demanded a ridiculous amount of money in tribute. The story goes that he went to intercede with the Swedish commander to reduce the tribute and the commander refused. At this point Rinkart turned to the crowd that was with him and said “Come my children, we can find no hearing, no mercy with men. Let us take refuge with God.” he then fell to his knees and prayed with such pathos that the commander reduced the tribute from $30,000 to $2,000. He wrote this hymn in 1644, 4 years before the Peace of Westphalia that ended the War in 1648.

Now Thank We All Our God by Martin Rinkart (A 17th century German hymnwriter).
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.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and 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 Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

The Pilgrim’s Song by Henry Lyte (author of Jesus I My Cross Have Taken)

My rest is in heaven; my rest is not here
Then why should I murmer when trials are near?
Be hushed my dark spirit! The worst that can come
But shortens my journey, and hastens thee home

It is not for me to be seeking my bliss
And building my hopes in a region like this
I look for a city which hands have not piled
I pant for a country by sin undefiled

The thorn and the thistle around me may grow
I would not lie down upon roses below
I ask not my portion, I seek not a rest
Till I find them, O Lord, in Thy sheltering breast

Afflictions may damp me, they cannot destroy
One glimpse of Thy love turns them all into joy
And the bitterest tears, if Thou smile but on them
Like dew in the sunshine, grow diamond and gem

Let doubt then, and danger, my progress oppose
They only make Heaven more sweet at the close
Come joy, or come sorrow, whate’er may befall
And hour with my God will make up for it all

A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand
I march on in haste through an enemy’s land
The road may be rough, but it cannot be long
And I’ll smooth it with hope, and I’ll cheer it with song!

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