One of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns is “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing.” Whenever the organ intones the first note of that hymn, I am transported back to my earliest days in Connecticut, when our family gathered around the large table at my grandparents’ home and celebrated the blessings of liberty and our lives. With only a child’s perspective on time, and witnessing the authority of my grandfather as he wielded the knife to cut the turkey, I thought that my grandparents actually were contemporaries of the Pilgrims whom we studied at school! Time and maturity has put those things in perspective, but I never will get beyond those earliest memories—and the hymn that triggers them.
That famous hymn was in fact the product of Dutch Protestants in the late 16th century, who celebrated their deliverance from the threat of Spain through this hymn. It was taken up in a German hymnbook, translated into English in the late 19th century and put in the part of the hymnbook on Thanksgiving hymns, even though the concept is not there in the original words of the song.
Yet I sing it with gusto at this time of the year. Every word brings to mind the way that God’s faithfulness has followed me through the ebbs and flows of life. If you are so inclined you can hear the incomparable Kathyrn Grayson singing it. And as you listen, may your faith be renewed in this harvest time, and may it be a faith that lives in your heart and that of your family, your family business and your community.