[Update of original post published November 25, 2020]
God has promised that good will triumph and evil will lose. We see some of this now, but all of it will be accomplished eventually. Many of the best things are yet to come. This much-loved song of Thanksgiving artfully describes God’s plans and timing — His goodness and faithfulness — in terms of harvest. The song uses the annual agricultural harvest to illustrate the final harvest — and celebrates both. The song is a prayer that we will sow — and reap — well. Please give this song a sing-along listen, then come right back and let me plant some good ideas — I’m sure they grow on you. A good harvest is always a reason to be thankful.
We reap what we sow
Reap and sow,
plant and harvest,
cause and effect — these are different words for the same idea.
An important part of growing up is learning causes and effects.
As youngsters we want things to happen FAST. We don’t want to plant and wait-wait-wait for some harvest that seems way out of sight.
As we get older and wiser we learn some things take time. We learn what needs to be planted to get the results we want.
Planting and harvesting worked for Adam and Eve and still work for us today. God still honors and blesses sowing and reaping.
Maltbie Babcock (who also wrote the song “This Is My Father’s World”) penned this beautiful, simple poem about God’s provision:
Back of the loaf is the snowy flour,
And back of the flour the mill,
And back of the mill are the wheat and the showers
And the sun and the Father’s will.
Our poet gets it.
He sees God’s provision promised in the Bible and woven into creation.
He sees God’s provision up close and personal on his dinner table.
If you want to have a great time, ask a thankful person to tell you about how God has provided.
Be prepared to sit and listen for awhile.
Be prepared to be inspired and blessed.
God has always desired that every person would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. He wishes everyone would accept His invitation to get in on the good side of the coming harvest. He has always provided everything needed for this to happen —
He sent His Word,
He sent His Son, and
He still sends apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to bring the gospel of glad tidings and good news.
God is always faithful to honor His promises and to provide what people need to receive them.
A song about two harvests
In four verses our song describes and compares two harvests:
1. The annual autumn harvest — when the good crops are gathered in for the season and the tares (weeds) are gathered and destroyed
2. God’s final harvest — when the Lord gathers in all His people to live with Him forever in glory and separates out those who rejected God in this life
The thankful people of the song’s first verse understand that it is God Almighty — not His critics — who gets to direct what He is going to do. These thankful ones dearly desire that all be saved. These thankful people find their greatest joy in helping others come to the Lord.
Since the beginning some people have argued against God’s plan and rejected it. They say God is not fair. They mock and scorn wholesomeness and purity. They love death instead of life.They make their choice.
This song beautifully calls people to reach up for what is good. The song also encourages us — and warns, too, — that evil will not endure. The song is a prayer to “The Lord of Harvest” that we will succeed in changing our lives to reflect God’s goodness.
God faithfully honors His promises.
Some assembly required
Our song packages wonderful truth in rich language, carried by an energetic melody. The song is challenging to memorize, and takes some effort to understand. It is NOT the kind of song today’s commercial music industry feeds on. Yet, like the Bible itself, this song has enough depth and substance that effort invested in absorbing its language pays back excellent returns. Read through the lyrics a few times thoughtfully and notice the skillful writing. It is beautiful!
Memorizing Bible verses is vital to strong living.
Memorizing a song like this can also help our thoughts.
We’ve got the space up there … let’s use it well.
God bless you lots!
LYRICS: Come Ye Thankful People
Text: Henry Alford, 1844
Tune: George J. Elvey, 1858
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 does 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.
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God bless you lots!
– Dale R.
Please share your thoughts
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Greetings Mr Dale..your songs are awesome….u sang with clarity, not a lot of this or that, but straight from the heart ♥………..your song……………. COME YE THANKFUL PEOPLE 🙏 🙌…PRAISE TO OUR FATHER JESUS… We do have a lot to be thankful for…u have summed it up to the core…and like u said…it all starts with OUR HEAVENLY FATHER 💘…ALL HE DID WAS SHOW US , THE GREATEST HARVEST OF ALL TIMES…HE STRETCHED OUT HIS ARMS AND DIED…So mr dale…..”PLEASE ” Keep the joy in your heart ❤ and keep running 🏃♂️ FOR OUR FATHER JESUS.. and never stop sharing your amazing songs. .u and Cathy are awesome…because I know she is right there holding your hand …. BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS GOES OUT TO THE BOTH OF U 🙏 🙌… MUCH BLESSINGS 💘…
Julia, I agree … that harvest to come will be WONDERFUL! Who but Jesus Christ offers us a life to look forward to after this one? No one! What a wonderful Savior. God bless you lots – Dale R.
I really enjoyed your article describing the beautiful lyrics in spiritual terms. I have always had sweet but agricultural thoughts of God’s goodness to man in giving us food. Now when I hear this sweet classic song, I can enjoy the idea of BEING part of His glorious harvest!
What a treat! I love this song. It would be so mice to hear it in our churches again. Thanks Dale! You made my Thanksgiving!.