816

Father, We Give You Thanks

Scripture References

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Acclamation
Great God of all, we have not achieved our faith but discovered it.
To you, O Lord, our hearts we raise.
You have made us for your company and pleasure.
To you, O Lord, our hearts we raise.
You love and sanctify the holy catholic church.
To you, O Lord, our hearts we raise.
Great God of all, we have not achieved our faith but discovered it.
To you, O Lord, our hearts we raise in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Tune Information

Name
NEUMARK/WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT
Key
g minor
Meter
9.8.9.8.8.8

Hymn Story/Background

This hymn text is rooted in the early Christian church, all the way back to the Greek-language Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), a Christian manual from the Church of Antioch, Syria, which some scholars date as early as A.D. 110. To produce this hymn text, F. Bland Tucker translated selected prayers from chapters 9 and 10 of the Didache.
 
Stanzas 1 and 2a are from a post-communion prayer, and stanza 2b is from a prayer intended during distribution of the bread. The whole is essentially a hymn of thanksgiving and praise (st. 1) concluded with a petition for the unity of the church (st. 2), which reminds us of Christ's prayer that all believers "may be one" (John 17:21).
 
Tucker's 1939 translation was first published in the American Protestant Episcopal Hymnal 1940. The original first line read, "Father, we thank thee who hast planted."
 
Published in 1657, the tune, WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT is also known as NEUMARK. Johann S. Bach used the tune in its isorhythmic shape (all equal rhythms) in his cantatas 21, 27, 84, 88, 93, 166, 179, and 197. Many Lutheran composers have also written organ preludes on this tune.
 
WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT is a bar form (AAB) with rhythmic interest and mainly stepwise melodic lines. Sing in a steady unison on stanzas 1 and 3 and in harmony on stanza 2 with a quieter organ registration.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

An Episcopal priest, Francis Bland Tucker (b. Norfolk, VA, 1895; d. Savannah, GA, 1984) has been called "the dean of American hymn writers." He was educated at the University of Virginia and Virginia Theological Seminary. During World War I he served as an operating room assistant at Verdun. Ordained in 1920, Tucker had two long pastorates: St. John's Church in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. (1925-1945), and Christ Church in Savannah, Georgia (1945-1967), where, earlier, John Wesley had briefly served. Tucker was active in the Civil Rights Movement and in various civic organizations. He served on the committee for the Episcopal Hymnal 1940, which published six of his hymn texts and translations, and on the committee for the Hymnal 1982. In 1980 he was honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Georg Neumark (b. Langensalza, Thuringia, Germany, 1621; d. Weimar, Germany, 1681) lived during the time of the Thirty Years' War, when social and economic conditions were de­plorable. He had personal trials as well. On his way to Königsberg to study at the university, traveling in the comparative safety of a group of merchants, he was robbed of nearly all his possessions. During the next two years he spent much of his time looking for employment. He finally secured a tutoring position in Kiel. When he had saved enough money, he returned to the University of Königsberg and studied there for five years. In Königsberg he again lost all his belong­ings, this time in a fire. Despite his personal suffering Neumark wrote many hymns in which he expressed his absolute trust in God. In 1651 he settled in Weimar, Thuringia, where he became court poet and archivist to Duke Johann Ernst and librarian and registrar of the city. 
— Bert Polman
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