‘Come, Ye Thankful People, Come’

Special to The Mountaineer
By Lucy N. Adams | Nov 20, 2012

A car door slammed outside and we welcomed beloved family members with open arms. We celebrated an early Thanksgiving with a reunion of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Loving hugs and laughter, accompanied by a few tears of joy, spread across our front porch. As we have grown closer through the years, each reunion seems better than the last.
With ups and downs through various ages and stages, a sprinkling of teen-age rebellion and a tad of depression, we praise God for growing our faith. Not that His love wasn’t there all the time, but we know that our Christian faith carried us through all the years of growing pains.
The story of “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” involves another family of devotion and inspiration. When Henry Alford was only 16, he wrote a profound promise in the front of his Bible: “I do this day, in the presence of God and my own soul, renew my covenant with God and solemnly determine henceforth to become His, and to do His work as far as in me lies.”
I can only imagine the blessing that his parents received when they discovered the growing faith of their teenage son. Born in London, England, Oct. 7, 1810, Alford was nurtured by Christian parents and greatly influenced by his grandfather and father, who were both Anglican clergymen.
Alford lived up to the promise he made as a teenager because his life was a testimony to Christian commitment. After graduation from Trinity College, Cambridge, he began his ministry as a theologian, poet and musician. He was appointed dean of Canterbury Cathedral, which was considered the “mother church” of England.
Alford’s ministry and pen stopped at his death in 1871, but he left the world a memorable hymn of thanksgiving. He wrote “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” in 1844 to celebrate a joy-filled harvest festival in the English countryside.
Two stanzas summarize Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13. The last stanza is a prayer that anticipates Jesus’ second coming: “Lord, gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin.”
A thankful heart is pleasing to God. In America, we are blessed that our leaders have established a national day for giving thanks. In 1941, Congress voted that each fourth Thursday in November would be an official holiday of Thanksgiving.
May each of us set aside some special time on this special day to focus on the God of love who is the Source of all blessings.
“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.”  
Reach Lucy Adams at lucya424@aol.com or visit www.52hymns.com.