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Appreciating Our Lutheran Hymns

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

A Hymn On Harvest And Thanksgiving

#574 in The Lutheran Hymnal

Thanksgiving Day in the United States commemorates the harvest gathered by the Plymouth Colony in 1621.

After the extreme hardships of the previous winter, the people of the Colony were especially mindful that year that the harvest was a blessing from God. Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving, which was celebrated with a feast shared by the colonists and the neighboring Indians.

In our day when fewer and fewer people make their living directly from the land, it is especially important that we be reminded to give thanks for the harvest. We need to remember that our well-stocked foodstores are the result of the Lord’s goodness. He is the One who sends rain and sunshine in proper measure to make plants grow and produce. He is the One who preserves the crops from being destroyed by hail and insects.

Our hymn reminds us of these things: “God, our Maker, doth provide For our wants to be supplied.” It is fitting that, though most of us are not farmers, we gather to “Raise the song of Harvest-home.”

There is yet another reason that it is good for us to think of the harvest. Jesus used it in a parable as a picture of the Judgment (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43).

The gathering of the harvest each year ought to remind us that Judgment Day is coming. Now believers and unbelievers live in this world like “Wheat and tares together sown.” But the day will soon come when the Lord will separate them, giving eternal life to those who believe in Jesus and casting the unbelieving into eternal fire. “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 garner to abide. Come with all Thine angels, come, Raise the glorious harvest-home.”

–Pastor John Klatt