Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now Thank We All Our God!

I'm thankful for Joni Eareckson Tada. My wife gets her daily devotional and often shares with me. Today's was a gem.
"O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. (Psalm 51:15)"

I have this game. Well… really, it’s more than a game. For me, it’s serious fun. In my travels around the world, I will sometimes find myself in a great, cavernous hall or cathedral. If it’s empty and no one is around, I will fill the place with music by singing one particular hymn—“Now Thank We All Our God”—as loud as I can. I think it’s important to remind these great places of who designed them, who is King of their space, and that they are only great because God gave the ideas to the architects in the first place.

The first big, important place I remember singing this hymn was in a railway station at eleven o’clock at night with a few of my friends from high school choir. Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices…. The second place was in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Then there was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and Westminster Abbey in London. Who from our mothers’ arms, has blessed us on our way, With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today. And just last fall when I toured the Sydney Opera House, someone said, “Hey Joni, want to sing something?” I could think of no better song to fill the wide-open spaces of that world-renowned, acoustically-perfect concert hall than to sing my signature hymn. Everywhere you and I go, everywhere we visit, every place, every square foot of ground, is territory we can claim for a song for the God of all nations.


Try it! The next time you’re in a big empty building—or even the great cathedral out-of-doors, declare his praise out loud… in a psalm, a chorus, a hymn, or a shout!

Great God and Savior, may your praise be on my lips more and more as the days and weeks of this year slip by.
I'm thankful for this hymn Joni introduces.
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 bless├Ęd 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.
I'm thankful for the story behind the hymn.
Martin Rinkart (cir­ca 1636), a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in Eil­en­burg, Sax­o­ny, dur­ing the Thir­ty Years’ War. The walled ci­ty of Eil­en­burg saw a stea­dy stream of re­fu­gees pour through its gates. The Swed­ish ar­my sur­round­ed the ci­ty, and fa­mine and plague were ramp­ant. Eight hund­red homes were de­stroyed, and the peo­ple be­gan to per­ish. There was a tre­men­dous strain on the pas­tors who had to con­duct do­zens of fun­er­als dai­ly. Fi­nal­ly, the pas­tors, too, suc­cumbed, and Rink­art was the on­ly one left—doing 50 fun­er­als a day. When the Swedes de­mand­ed a huge ran­som, Rink­art left the safe­ty of the walls to plead for mer­cy. The Swed­ish com­mand­er, im­pressed by his faith and cour­age, low­ered his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the Thir­ty Years’ War end­ed, and Rinkart wrote this hymn for a grand cel­e­bra­tion ser­vice. It is a test­a­ment to his faith that, af­ter such mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and gra­ti­tude to­ward God.
We have much to be grateful for in America, even in this current financial downturn. Our God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving!

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