Thanksgiving Remembering and Songs of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a time of memories—long memories of mothers and grandmothers preparing meals and of fathers and grandfathers carving turkey, for us and people who loved us; long memories of preparing Thanksgiving food baskets community meals that helped us learn to see need and meet it; near memories of the weeks and months just past and all the thanks-worthy aspects of those days and of naming them silently and together.
Thanksgiving has singing memories for me: Long memories of “We plow the fields and scatter, the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand,” (Matthias Claudius, 1740-1815) words sung in our white framed church with people who did plow and plant, cultivate and harvest, year after year. Nearer memories of thankful hymns that I learned to sing in an inner-city congregation with people whose lives had not been like my own, “Lift every voice and sing…. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us; sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.” (James Johnson, 1871-1938).
And we sing words newer still, new enough that I knew the writer as did many of you. He was a 1950 graduate of Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary, a Trinity predecessor. I appreciate the words and the tune and the man, “Thine the truly thine the yes, thine the table we the guest, thine the mercy all from thee, thine the glory yet to be….” (Herb Brokering, 1926-2009).
The most persistent song of thanks in my life is the oldest of these, one sung year round and in many places, in churches and chapels and at gravesides.
Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices;
who, from our mothers’ arms, has blest us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,
and keep us all in grace, and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all harm in this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
the Son, and Spirit blest, who reign in highest heaven,
the one eternal God, whom earth and heav’n adore;
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
(Martin Rinkhart, 1586-1649;
tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878)
This is a song of thankful hope. This year I sing it with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in mind. I am thankful for Trinity and I am hopeful. May your Thanksgiving memories and songs and hopes be blessed!
Missed Last Week's Thoughts?