Monday Musical Moment: MMM: Thankfulness
As we transition to Thanksgiving week, reflecting on all we are thankful for, I wanted to share with you one of the most often performed hymn tunes in existence that is forever tied to this time of year: Nun danket alle Gott.
The hymn tune, also listed more simply as NUN DANKET, was originally composed by the German hymnist Johann Crüger in 1647, and has since been sung, played, and varied upon in countless ways across the centuries, from the masters of the German Baroque period like J.S. Bach, whose works Crüger was undoubtedly familiar, to composers today. In fact, if you attended the 11:05 service yesterday, you heard the choir sing a wonderful contemporary setting of that very same tune arranged by Mark Hayes.
The common English translation for the tune is “Now Thank We All Our God,” but I feel like something is missing in that. As those of you who have studied other languages may have realized, translations are rarely exact word-for-word translations. In this case, the word “nun” more accurately translates to “well.” Instead of a word like “jetzt” which translates more to a immediate “now,” “well” conveys a sense of mindfulness in what is happening. So, I’d like to amend the English translation to the following: “Now, thank we all, our God.” The meaning then changes completely, and I think more accurately conveys the meaning that the author of the hymn tune intended.
Please enjoy an organ variation of NUN DANKET in the old German style by none other than J.S. Bach. I hope everyone has a wonderful a Thanksgiving!