Since the Plymouth Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, this holiday has been a time for reflecting upon thankfulness, pointing many hearts to God, the Creator and Provider. Folks gather to worship God in their own churches or in inter-faith gatherings at Thanksgiving. What sacred and traditional hymns are most suitable for Thanksgiving?
Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving hymns, arranged alphabetically by title. (Click on title links to hear the melodies.) Perhaps you have a few of your own treasured sacred songs to add to the list.
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1. All Things Bright and Beautiful
“All Things Bright and Beautiful” is a treasured Thanksgiving hymn, with words written in 1848 by Irish lyricist Cecil Alexander.
This hymn is an annual Thanksgiving tradition in many homes and churches. The refrain of “All Things Bright and Beautiful” trumpets the glory displayed in God’s creation:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
2. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Composed by George J. Elvey in 1858 (with lyrics by Henry Alford), “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” is a classic Thanksgiving hymn.
The first verse of “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” serves as an invitation to Thanksgiving worship of God:
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.
3. For the Beauty of the Earth
For many American Christians, “For the Beauty of the Earth” may be the perennial favorite of all Thanksgiving hymns. With words by Folliot Pierpoint and several tune variations, this song praises the Creator of all.
In the refrain, “For the Beauty of the Earth” positively reverberates with simple praise to the glory of the Maker:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.
4. Now Thank We All Our God
The lyrics of this 17th Century Christian hymn were penned by Martin Rinkart, of Germany. Catherine Winkworth translated the lines into English in 1856. Renowned composer Felix Mendelssohn added harmonies to the original tune, which has been credited to Johann Cruger.
The second verse of “Now Thank We All Our God” is clearly earmarked for such an occasion of gratitude as Thanksgiving:
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
5. Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow
This short, but spiritually profound, hymn is often called “The Doxology.” Although many churches sing this weekly, and some folks even employ the song as a grace before meals, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” seems particularly suited to Thanksgiving.
British hymnist Thomas Ken penned the lyrics to “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” in 1674:
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
6. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” is a 19th Century German hymn, with lyrics by Joachim Neander and music my Love den Herren. Catherine Winkworth translated the song to English in 1863.
The fourth stanza of “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” clearly declares the truth of Thanksgiving – that it is God who prospers people and that nothing is impossible for those who will rely upon Him. Would not the Pilgrims of Plymouth Village have echoed this conviction?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
7. This Is My Father’s World
American lyricist Maltbie Babcock wrote the words to “This Is My Father’s World” in 1901, setting them to a traditional English melody.
The third stanza of “This Is My Father’s World” inspires us to appreciation, especially at Thanksgiving and even in difficult times:
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
8. We Gather Together
“We Gather Together” was written and composed by Dutchman Adrianus Valius in 1597. Theodore Baker translated the hymn of divine praise and thankfulness to English in 1894.
The opening stanza of this traditional hymn beckons us to Thanksgiving worship:
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 to His Name; He forgets not His own.
9. We Plow the Fields
“We Plow the Fields” was written in 1782, when German lyricist Matthias Claudius was inspired by a local farmers’ chorus. Johann Schulz put the words to music in 1800.
This hymn acknowledges and honors the God of the harvest, who provides all good things. The refrain of “We Plow the Fields” offers a pertinent Thanksgiving chorus:
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving hymn? Did it make this list of best-loved choices?