Martin Rinkart was a minister in the little town of Eilenburg in Germany some 370 years ago. He was the son of a poor coppersmith, but somehow, he managed to work his way through an education. Finally, in the year 1617, he was offered the post of Archdeacon in his hometown parish.
Then the Thirty-Years-War broke out and his town was caught right in the middle. In 1637, a massive plague hit Eilenburg; people died at the rate of fifty a day and Martin Rinkart was called upon to bury most of them. Over 8,000 people died, including Rinkart's wife. Rinkart’s ministry spanned 32 years, all but the first and the last overwhelmed by war and plague, tough circumstances in which to be thankful. But Rinkart managed, and he wrote these words which became a hymn still sung today:
Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath 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.