Next Thursday We Will Sing

Our Thanksgiving plans are set, and Lord willing, we will have a houseful as we gather in gratitude for all the things the Lord has done. We are not only grateful, we are grateful to the Giver of all of it.

These are dark and dangerous times. Not only is the world as a whole in great turmoil, but so many that we know are going through deep trials of various kinds. Those of us in our family have also faced great difficulty in various ways in the last year. That changes nothing as we gather to say thank you to the One who sustains us all.

I told my sister that when she and her husband, Russ and their four children come, they should bring their musical instruments. Russ and Lisa’s children sing as well as play instruments, and I am printing off song sheets for us all. Even the grandsons, Peter and Max, can play the rhythm instruments and make music.

The first song we will sing is a song written several centuries ago in the middle of a horrific time in history. The simple hymn, Now Thank We All Our God, was not written in an American suburb in a centrally heated home with food in the cupboards and a fully plumbed bath and warm beds. It was written in a time of war, with death and want all around.

Here’s a little glimpse of the environment in which a humble pastor, Martin Rinckart lived:

The plague of 1637 visited Eilenburg with extraordinary severity; the town was overcrowded with fugitives from the country districts where the Swedes had been spreading devastation, and in this one year 8,000 persons died in it. The whole of the town council except three persons, a terrible number of school children, and the clergymen of the neighbouring parish, were all carried off; and Rinckart had to do the work of three men, and did it manfully at the beds of the sick and dying. He buried more than 4,000 persons, but through all his labours he himself remained perfectly well. The pestilence was followed by a famine so extreme that thirty or forty persons might be seen fighting in the streets for a dead cat or crow. Rinckart, with the burgomaster and one other citizen, did what could be done to organize assistance, and gave away everything but the barest rations for his own family, so that his door was surrounded by a crowd of poor starving wretches, who found it their only refuge.

That was the state of things. Here’s more:

After all this suffering came the Swedes once more, and imposed upon the unhappy town a tribute of 30,000 dollars. Rinckart ventured to the camp to entreat the general for mercy, and when it was refused, turned to the citizens who followed him, saying, “Come, my children, we can find no hearing, no mercy with men, let us take refuge with God.” He fell on his knees, and prayed with such touching earnestness that the Swedish general relented, and lowered his demand at last to 2,000 florins. (Source: Martin Rinckart)

In this environment of suffering and want, the pastor wrote a brief hymn of thanks to His heavenly Father. Here are the 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.

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.

Our daughter Emily, age 6, has learned this hymn at school. She will lead us off by singing the first stanza on Thanksgiving Day, and we will all join in the rest, with Tom on trumpet, Will at the piano, and Rachel on Viola and the grandbabes on the rhythm instruments.

In light of the manifold blessings we enjoy every single day, how can we do any less but thank God? If Rev. Rinckart could pen this hymn in the midst of such suffering, what is our excuse for not recognizing God’s blessings?

I hope all of you have a joyful Thanksgiving time, wherever you may be, in whatever you are facing. God has not forgotten you.

thanksgiving-songs

A Turkey Full of Blessings

turkeyofthanksEmmy came home from school with a poster board with a turkey on it. She is supposed to decorate the turkey with all the things she is thankful for. It’s sitting on our dining room table, and tonight we’re going to work on the project together.

My daughter-in-law, Laura, is helping me with Thanksgiving dinner this year, and today I went shopping for the things I’m going to make. I was standing in the aisle deliberating over an item when I was overwhelmed with a sense of thankfulness for just being in the store, able to buy things for our family, let alone a nice dinner like we’re planning. It’s a blessed thing to be able to have anything with which to feed our families, isn’t it?

As important as material things are, life without friends and loved ones would be a sad thing. Our gratitude this year centers around the people in our lives who are a daily reminder of our deepest blessings. They give us hope and joy, as we hope we give them.

My son wrote this the other day, and I thought it was simple, yet profound.

“True heroism is found in small but consistent deeds of love to those closest to you. God’s view of things is often the exact opposite of our own. While we fawn over the big deeds, God is paying attention to the ones we deem insignificant. It is those “small things” that will be revealed before the throne of judgement. Above all, love is the ingredient that gives worth to all our deeds, big or little. Without love, it is so much straw that will be consumed.” ~ Sam

(Son Samuel and grandson, Max and my little grandson, Peter with his frog this summer.)

 

SamandMax
Froggy

A Joyful Thanksgiving!

Emily has memorized her first Bible verse. I chose this one. “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever.” (Psalm 107:1)

My list would go on and on and on if I put down all the things I am thankful for. Suffice it to say that we are grateful for all that we have at the Schlueter home. We are grateful first for the love of God, without which we would all be lost. I’m grateful next for the love we have for each other. It starts at the top with my dear husband, Tom and flows from there. I could never thank God enough for him.

I’m thankful for dear friends who brighten up our lives so much. I am thankful to have a new opportunity for my writing, an unexpected chance to use it beyond the blog world, which is exciting. (More at a later date.) I am thankful for my job in radio assisting a very fine talk radio host, and I’m thankful for the most important job I have which is that of mother, wife and homemaker.

May each and every one of you have a joyful and peaceful Thanksgiving. Despite all that is wrong in the world, all of us have something for which to give thanks.

The hymn Now Thank We All Our God was written in the middle of a terrible time in history.

Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran minister who came to Eilenburg, Saxony at the beginning of the Thirty years war. The walled city of Eilenburg became the refuge for political and military fugitives, but the result was overcrowding, and deadly pestilence and famine. Armies overran it three times. The Rinkart home was a refuge for the victims, even though he was often hard-pressed to provide for his own family. During the height of a severe plague in 1637, Rinkart was the only surviving pastor in Eilenburg, conducting as many as 50 funerals in a day. He performed more than 4000 funerals in that year, including that of his wife.

During this time, Rinkart was a prolific hymn writer. In Rinkart’s “Jesu Hertz-Buchlein” (Leipzig, Germany: 1636), the hymn (Now Thank We All Our God” appears under the title “Tisch-Gebetlein,” or a short prayer before meals. The exact date of “Nun danket alle Gott” is in question, but it is known that it was widely sung by the time the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648. (Wiki)

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.

Don’t Forget Your Blessings

I love this song. I know I posted it once before a couple of years ago. It is not the familiar “Count Your Blessings” many know, but this version, sung by Welsh singer, Aled Jones, is really lovely, and sums it all up. The lyrics are below the video.

 

Count your blessings one by one,
When dawn appears and day has just begun.
They will light your heart with happiness,
Make each hour bright and bring you gladness.

Count your blessings one by one,
When twilight falls and toil of day is done,
And in sweet dreams they’ll come again to you,
If you will count your blessings each day through.

Count your blessings while you may.
For we are here but little time to stay.
All around are friends, sincere and true.
Lovely things abound, just waiting for you.

Count your blessings while you may,
The big or small, whichever comes your way,
For then you’ll find this world a place of love
If you will count your blessings from above.