Thanksgiving Day in the United States originally started as a day to give thanks to God (wikipedia.org). Hundreds of years later, the Christian Church is still giving thanks to God, in part, in the form of Thanksgiving Eve Services. Typically traditional in nature, these services often feature hymns written to help the congregation say thank you to God through music. Listed below are the five top hymns for Thanksgiving Eve services. The hymns cover a variety of themes, focusing on praise and thanksgiving to God for Who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s given us. Many hymns are punctuated with thoughts on the harvest, fruit, and other blessings that come from the earth, and draw a parallel to the God of Creation gathering His people to Himself as a farmer gathers the harvest from his field.
“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” by Henry Alford, 1844, with music by George J. Elvey, 1858, is probably one of the best known Thanksgiving hymns, and one that certainly speaks of the bountiful harvest. The hymn speaks beautifully of God’s provision for our needs, and especially of our deepest need: the need to be saved from our sins. “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. “
“Now Thank We All Our God” by Johann Cruger, 1647 and Martin Rinkart, 1636 (tr. Catherine Winkworth 1858) speaks of the earth, but focuses more on the wonderful things that God has done for us, rather than what He has physically given us. The first verse proclaims, “Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices. Who, from our mother’s arms Hath blessed us on our way With countess gifts of love, And still is ours today.”
“We Gather Together'” tr. Theodore Baker, 1917 with music arranged by Edward Kremser, 1877, is another hymn that focuses on what God has done for us, and asking Him to continue providing for us. It is based on a Netherlands Folk Hymn, and the first verse states, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; He chastens and hastens His will to make known; The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing, Sing praises ot His name: He forgets not His own.”
“For the Beauty of the Earth'” by Folliot S. Pierpoint, 1864, with music by Conrad Kocher, 1838 and arranged by William H. Monk in 1861, focuses on the physical blessings God has given us, and praising Him for them. “For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies, For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies, Lord of all, to Thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise. “
“All Creatures of Our God and King,” by St. Francis of Assisi in 1225 tr. by William H, Draper in 1926, with music by Cologne, 1623, is a hymn of praise that focuses on all of God’s works – His Creation, especially man, praising Him. “All Creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing Alleluia, Alleluia! “
These hymns are old favorites in many churches for their Thanksgiving Services. Many other Thanksgiving hymns can be found in various hymnals and online. The hymns listed above are from “The Singing Church, ” copyright 1985 by Hope Publishing Company.