Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God our Maker doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear:
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away;
Give His angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come,
Bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come,
Raise the glorious harvest home.
For some reason, the first verse of this Thanksgiving hymn has been running around in my mind all day. Perhaps because cold weather is finally here. John built our first fire of the season last night. Or maybe because Thanksgiving is around the corner. We do tend to focus on our blessings more during this season.
I can remember learning and singing this song in third grade chorus and in church choir. At Park Hills Elementary School, we had a program to celebrate Thanksgiving, and we loudly sang this. Some of us wore Indian headbands, and the rest of us wore Pilgrim garb. Our parents smiled and applauded our efforts, even if there were a few notes off-key.
Tom Lyles, our Minister of Music, directed all the choirs in singing the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Dressed in our short choir robes, we stood on the steps of the podium in front of the adult choir. The setting and atmosphere were quite different than at school. I don’t remember any smiling or clapping from those in the pews. But the organ was a magnificent accompaniment.
Rather than a Thanksgiving feast provided by our mothers, we listened to a sermon about being thankful for God’s gifts.
George Henry Durrie
“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence,” wrote William Jennings Bryan.
Henry Alford, the author of Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, was born in London and came from a line of five successive generations of Anglican priests. His mother died when he was very young, and so he was brought up by his widowed father. He was a very bright and, at times, precocious child. He was immersed in the classics from an early age and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was made a fellow in 1834.
He wrote the inscription for his grave marker. Translated into English, it said, “the inn of a traveller on his way to Jerusalem.” Isn’t this a beautiful way to describe our lives on earth?
Alford was a talented artist, musician and writer. He translated the Odyssey, edited an edition of the Greek New Testament, the works of John Donne, and published a number of his poems.
This American holiday is always about family, food, and friends.
President Franklin Roosevelt prayed, “Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.”