I was reading the online Divine Hours yesterday and part of the prayers included the old Thanksgiving hymn, Come Ye Thankful People Come.
I was struck by the familiarity of the words, even though I haven't sung that hymn for years. It was a Thanksgiving Day tradition at the church I grew up in. But reading the words, with no music, I suddenly SAW the words. Isn't funny how you can sing words over and over and not really comprehend their meaning?
For the first time I realized that the song begins as a thankful prayer about harvest, and goes on to talk about the great harvest at the end of the age, when God sends his angels to sift out the wheat from the tares.
It was the greatest revelation I've had since last Christmas when I first learned that in Advent season we not only remember and celebrate Christ's first Advent, but we remind and ready ourselves for his Second Advent.
This Thanksgiving hymn is also sort of an Advent hymn, reminding us that as we're being thankful for our earthly harvest, we should remember and be ready for the Great Last Harvest.
And I love this prayer from the song:
That is my prayer this Thanksgiving, pre-Advent week: that God, by His gracious Spirit would make me pure and wholesome grain.
Here are all the words, from HymnSite.com Home
694. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Text: Henry Alford, 1810-1871
Music: George J. Elvey, 1816-1893
Tune: ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR, Meter: 77.77 D
1. 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.
2. All the world is God's own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to 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.
3. For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.
4. Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring 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.