Martin Rinckart [Rinkart] was born on April 23, 1586, in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany. The son of a poor coppersmith, who made his way at the University of Leipzig by dint of industry and his musical gifts, took orders and was precentor of the church at Eisleben.

At the age of thirty-one was offered the place of Archdeacon at his native town of Eilenburg in Saxony. He went there as the war broke out, and died on this day in 1649 just after the peace, and throughout his thirty-one years, Martin stood by his flock and helped them to the utmost under every kind of distress. Of course, he had to endure the quartering of soldiers in his house and frequent plunderings of his little stock of grain and household goods. But these were small things.

The plague of 1637 visited Eilenburg with extraordinary severity, 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 neighboring parish were all carried off; and Rinckart had to do the work of three men, which he did manfully at the beds of the sick and dying. He buried more than 4,000 persons, including his wife, yet through all his labors he remained well. The pestilence was followed by a famine so extreme that people were seen fighting in the streets for a dead cat or crow. Rinckart, with the burgomaster and one other citizen, did what they could 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.

Yet how little his spirit was broken by all these calamities is shown by his best-known hymn “Nun danket alle Gott” and others that he wrote; some speaking of his country’s sorrows, but all breathing the same spirit of unbounded trust and readiness to give thanks. Rinckart composed this simple but noble expression of trust and praise when the hope of a general peace was dawning on the country. This hymn is among those selected by C. Winkworth for translation into English and became known in the English hymnal world as “Now thank we all our God“.

Biographies

Martin Rinckart (Tourism of Eilenburg)
Rinckart, Martin (BBKL) [German]
Reform Final Study Grom: Martin Rinckart (1586-1649]
Martin Rinckart (Wikipedia)
Martin Rinckart (Answers.com)
Martin Rinkart (CCEL) [N/A]

*Information retrieved from bach-cantatas.com.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1630Roger Williams, a powerful preacher and a relentless advocate of religious liberty; embarked secretly on a ship for America. On the shores of Narragansett Bay, he purchased land from the Indians and there he founded a settlement, naming it Providence, where all could worship in freedom. There he established the first Baptist church in America. And there he established the colony of Rhode Island.

1691Richard Baxter, the English non-conformist pastor, considered the greatest preacher and probably the best-known religious author of his day; died.

1808 – Former infidel Adoniram Judson, writes in his journal: “This day I made a solemn dedication of my life to God.” He went on to be one of America’s most famous missionary pioneers.

1854 – The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is declared an article of the Catholic faith by Pope Pius IX.

1900Rose Lathrop and Alice Huber found the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, also known as Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer.

*Information retrieved from Christianhistoryinstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com.

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