COME, YE THANKFUL PEOPLE, COME
Henry Alford, 1810–1871
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most high. (Psalm 92:1 KJV)
Our early American leaders wisely realized the importance of having a special day each year in which people could recount their blessings and express gratitude to God for all of His goodness.
The first thanksgiving was decreed by Governor Bradford in 1621 to commemorate the Pilgrims’ harvest. Later George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789, as a national day of thanksgiving, but the holiday was not repeated on a national basis until Abraham Lincoln named it a national Harvest Festival on November 26, 1861. After that time, the holiday was proclaimed annually by the President and the governors of each state. Finally in 1941, Congress passed a bill naming the fourth Thursday of each November as Thanksgiving Day.
The first stanza of this harvest hymn is an invitation and an exhortation to give thanks to God in His earthly temple—our local church—for the heavenly care and provision of our earthly need. The following two stanzas are an interesting commentary on the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares as recorded in Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43. The final stanza is a prayer for the Lord’s return—“the final harvest home.”
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 to Thy final harvest-home: gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin; there, forever purified, in Thy presence to abide: come, with all Thine angels, come—raise the glorious harvest-home.
For Today: 1 Chronicles 16:8, 9; Psalm 68:19; Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43; Hebrews 13:15
The worship most acceptable to God comes from a thankful heart. Carry this musical truth with you—