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To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Oct. 11, 2020: “Nun danket alle Gott” from Cantata No. 79 by J.S. Bach and Hymn 397 “Now thank we all our God”

Music Message for October 11, 2020 from Danny
(If you do not see the music icons/links within this post, please click on the Oct. 11, 2020 title/link above.)

“Nun danket alle Gott” from Cantata No. 79 by J.S. Bach
Hymn 397 “Now thank we all our God”

For this week, I decided to look at one of the old Lutheran hymns that is still hugely popular today (as opposed to another of the ones that has become obscure). “Now thank we all our God” has been a staple for centuries—alongside hymns like “A mighty fortress is our God.” I’ve always loved “Now thank we all our God” because my grandfather would often quote lines from it during his extemporaneous prayers for the family on special occasions.  (He did that with several old hymns, but I especially remember him inserting words from this one into his dinner blessings.)

Anyway, here is my recording of myself playing an organ piece that uses the tune—an arrangement for organ of the third movement of Bach’s Cantata No. 79.  This movement was originally for chorus and a small orchestra with winds.  It’s been arranged many times—this arrangement was made by Peter Baekgaard.  The choir part appears in long notes against the running counter-melody in the orchestra part.  I’m playing the choir part/hymn tune melody with the trumpet stop (so it’s hopefully easy to hear).

And then I’m also including a recording of myself playing the hymn as it appears in our hymnal.  This is a nineteenth-century version of the hymn.  If you listen closely, you’ll notice a couple little differences in the pitches in the melody if you compare it to the Bach piece.  Here it is, Hymn 397 with the words pasted below for singing along. Thanks very much, everyone!  Best to you guys!

1.    Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in Whom his world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

2.    Oh, 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.

3.    All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
Eternal, Triune God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be, evermore.