Thanksgiving hymn review: "We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer"

Hymn #466 in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (“We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer”) was originally written as a prayer of thanksgiving in the Netherlands after the English defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.

In the 1500s Spain and England were political and economic rivals and were unofficially at war for about 20 years at the end of the century. Spain controlled the Netherlands, so when the Dutch revolted against Spanish rule, England gave them support (“the enemy of my enemy is my friend”). Spain sent a fleet of 130 ships to invade England, but a combination of poor military management, bad weather, and good English defenses sent the Spanish home defeated. Spanish rule over the Netherlands was ended and this hymn celebrates the Dutch victory.

In 1904 in New York City, an organist asked a woman named Julia Cory to write a thanksgiving hymn. She produced a very free rendition of the original hymn, eliminating references to war and making it a general hymn of thanksgiving. The only war reference remaining is at the end of verse 2, “And with Thy help, O Lord, our battles we win.”

We aren’t fighting the Spanish today, but we are in a daily battle against Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh. Christ decisively defeated Satan in the battle of the ages 2,000 years ago on the cross outside Jerusalem. Although Jesus has already crushed the head of the Serpent, Satan still harries us while we live in this world. “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Happy Thanksgiving!

466 – We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer

  1. We praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator!
    In grateful devotion our tribute we bring;
    We lay it before Thee, we kneel and adore Thee;
    We bless Thy holy name; glad praises we sing.

  2. We worship Thee, God of our fathers; we bless Thee;
    Through life’s storm and tempest our Guide hast Thou been;
    When perils o’ertake us, escape Thou wilt make us,
    And with Thy help, O Lord, our battles we win.

  3. With voices united our praises we offer;
    To Thee, great Jehovah, glad anthems we raise.
    Thy strong arm will guide us, our God is beside us,
    To Thee, our great Redeemer, forever be praise.