Hymn text by Henry Alford, 1810-1871. View the full text of this hymn.

This is one of the Thanksgiving hymns in the hymnal (three of them in all), but after the first line, there’s not a mention of gratitude in the entire hymn. And yet in the subsequent fifteen lines, the theme of harvest is mentioned six times. It’s not a hymn of thankfulness; it’s a hymn of sowing and reaping.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that gratitude and harvest are connected. American Thanksgiving has its roots in early settlers being shown how to plant and cultivate crops by natives. They commemorated the harvest each year with a feast to show their gratitude for their bounty. They sowed, and they reaped, and they were thankful.

We do likewise, only we’re not the ones sowing much of anything. “All the world is God’s own field,” we sing in the second verse. He sows will He will, and we see that bounty accordingly. Everything we have comes not from anything we’ve done, but because the Lord has seen fit to give it to us.

In fact, when you get down to it, not only are we not the ones sowing, but we are, in fact, the ones being sown. We touched on this last week, but we are the seed being strewn throughout the world. We are the wheat and the tares, and we are grown “unto joy or sorrow.” We are planted, cultivated, and raised to maturity. We are harvested and brought into the barn. There is nothing more valuable in the eyes of the Lord of the harvest than we are. That’s what we’re thankful for as we sing this hymn. We aren’t singing about the blessings the Lord has placed in our lives, we’re singing about the blessings the Lord has made of our lives. We are precious, and He has made us so. We show our gratitude for that gift by doing our best to keep our lives pure and clean before Him. “Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure might be,” we sing in closing. It’s a hymn of harvest, but it’s also a hymn of gratitude as we show our thanks for being that pure, precious grain.

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