We are in a season of thankfulness, a time to give thanks to God for our country and forebears, our family and friends, and for the gifts of creation.

Thanksgiving Day has been a part of our American tradition since 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November would be a day of giving thanks. It became a national legal holiday in 1941 by an act of Congress.

It has become for us a day of feasting with special thanks for divine favors and goodness. Our expressions of gratitude continue all year, but this is time when we as a nation raise our voices with thankful hearts. A hymn that is often sung at this time of year is “Now thank we all our God,” written sometime during the experiences of the Thirty Years’ War by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649), A Lutheran pastor in the little village of Eilenberg, Saxony. With all the carnage of war plus plague, famine, and fear, Pastor Rinkart believed that “there is no healing without thanksgiving,” and thus he wrote this hymn with three stanzas of thanksgiving, prayer, and doxology.

The tune, Nun danket, was probably composed by Johann Cruger. Here is the text for your own celebration of thanks “with heart and hands and voices.”

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,
Hath 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 blessed 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.

This column was originally published: November 24, 2017.