527. Come, You Thankful People, Come

1 Come, you thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in
ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, does provide
for our needs to be supplied;
come, with all his people come,
raise the song of harvest home.

2 All the world is God's own field,
fruit unto his praise to yield;
wheat and weeds together sown,
unto 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 his harvest home;
he himself in that great day
all offense shall take away,
give his angels charge at last
in the fire the weeds to cast,
but the fruitful ears to store
in his garner evermore.

4 Even so, Lord, quickly come
to your final harvest home;
gather all your people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin
there, forever purified,
in your presence to abide;
come, with all your angels come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

Text Information
First Line: Come, you thankful people, come
Title: Come, You Thankful People, Come
Author: Henry Alford (1844, alt.)
Meter: 77 77 D
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ; ; ;
Topic: Return of Christ; Songs for Children: Hymns; Church and Mission (5 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: George J. Elvey (1858)
Composer (desc.): Craig S. Lang (1953)
Meter: 77 77 D
Key: F Major
Copyright: Descant © 1953, Novello & Company, Ltd.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 2 = Mark 4:28
st. 3 = Matt. 13:41-43
st. 4 = Rev. 22:20

Henry Alford (b. London, England, 1810; d. Canterbury, England, 1871) wrote this text and published it in seven stanzas in his Psalms and Hymns (1844). He revised and shortened it for publication in his Poetical Works (1865) and made final changes for his Year of Praise (1867). The latter version is the source of the further revised Psalter Hymnal text.

Written for village harvest festivals in England, the text uses imagery found in two gospel parables: the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29) and the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). However, the initial agricultural harvest theme becomes an eschatological metaphor for the final judgment when the angels will gather God's chosen people into the "glorious harvest home" and cast the evil "weeds" into the "fire." Thus the text provocatively combines language and imagery that represent annual harvests as well as the ultimate consummation of history.

Alford was born into a family of clergy. He received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, and was ordained in the Church of England in 1833. He became dean of Canterbury Cathedral in 1857, a position he held until his death. A renowned scholar, Alford wrote a four-volume commentary on the Greek New Testament, which became a standard work in its field. He was also a voluminous poet and hymn writer and published Poetical Works (2 vols, 1845) and Hymns for the Sundays and Festivals Throughout the Year (1836).

Liturgical Use:
Best suited for services that focus on the task or mission of the church in the world; associated in popular thought with harvest thanksgiving services, its use on such occasions merits some comment about the meaning of the harvest metaphor. Also use or Pentecost season; worship that focuses on Christ's second coming.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

George J. Elvey (PHH 48) composed ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR as a setting for James Montgomery's text "Hark! The Song of Jubilee," with which it was published in Edward H. Thorne's Selection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1858). The tune has been associated with Alford's text since publication of the hymn in the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR is named after the chapel in Windsor, England, where Elvey was organist for forty-seven years.

This serviceable Victorian tune is held together by the rhythmic motive of the opening phrase. Sing the opening stanzas in parts, but sing the prayer of stanza 4 in unison. Use of the descant by C. S. Lang (PHH 253) with stanza 4 may suggest a foretaste of heaven's glory.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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