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thanksgiving

photo and graphic: Martha G. Brady

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,
Giving 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.

Henry Alford & George J. Elvey

I love this song, especially the last 2 verses! My memories of singing it have often included singing it at Thanksgiving services, often in Florida where the weather, though warmish, was finally chilling enough to enjoy being outside, maybe even with long sleeves.

In college, I was often enjoying the beauty of Fall, a season I love for its beauty and color! Taking the day to stop and think about what I was thankful for, spending time with family, friends…or both, enjoying a delicious meal. All seemed to go with the day.

As time went on, it was our final reprieve before Christmas and shopping and all the busyness. We enjoyed that day of relative peace.

Yes, it often included football games on TV, food, three children and their accoutrements, maybe even going to a movie and other activities that didn’t look like worship. But it was a day to enjoy hanging out with friends and family.

We tried to make time to stop and intentionally thank GOD for His blessings…the many that we took for granted, the ones we had become aware of that year. Often we were thankful for the grace He had given us to survive hard times during difficult years. Other times we had over-the-top rejoicing at the delightful times.

We tried to make time to stop and intentionally thank GOD for His blessings...the many that we took for granted... Click To Tweet

It all came together! That is what made it beautiful. And looking at the words of this hymn, it is our future we can look forward to as well…that final time when Christ returns to gather His people home.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

********

The story of Henry Alford

I love reading about the people who wrote the words to these hymns. This was no exception! Henry Alford lived from 1810-1871. He attended Cambridge and was friends with, among others, Alfred Lord Tennyson.

At the age of 16, he renewed his covenant with GOD to remain His and continue GOD’s work for as long as he was able. During his years in university, one of his professors observed that Henry was “morally the bravest man I know.”

One of his professors observed that Henry was morally the bravest man I know. Click To Tweet

He went on to become a priest in the Church of England and served in the small area of Wyneswold. He made a point to visit every person in his parish. He also started afternoon services where he taught though the Bible in language the common people could understand.

Over an 18 year period, he wrote a Greek New Testament for which he is better known in academic circles. Among hymn singers, this is his best known hymn.

Later in life, he was called to Caterbury Cathedral where he had more freedom to to write more. He started his afternoon services in that parish as well. He was known for his evangelical preaching and his being a bit radical. But he was able to get away with his radical ways because he was so winsome. I’m not sure what radical meant back then but I think on him it was good.

He was known for his evangelical preaching and his being a bit radical... he was so winsome. Click To Tweet

He died suddenly in 1871.