Thanksgiving Day, in the USA, is always the 4th Thursday in November, which makes it land on the 22nd (at the earliest) through the 28th (at the latest). This year it’s on the 28th, the latest possible date. There’s a fun fact for you!
But that’s not why we’re here. The point of Thanksgiving is not its unusual calendar date challenge, but in taking time to be particularly attentive to the great virtue and practice of giving thanks. You know that never-ending question “What is God’s will for my life?”… well, consider this as one of the answers:
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Anyway, if you look in most hymnals (American hymnals at least, I don’t know for sure about other countries) you will find a section of Thanksgiving Hymns. Most of them are keyed to the harvest, which is one of the major sources for the timing of Thanksgiving in the US (and probably also Canada… theirs is a month earlier, but perhaps their growing season ends earlier than ours?). And so, when constructing a sing-the-hymnal-in-a-year plan, the simple idea in my mind was to spread out the Thanksgiving Hymns through the period of time in which Thanksgiving Day might land. When I originally did this with the 1940 hymnal, I keyed it to Thanksgiving Day and the weekdays leading up to it and following it, but the 2017 hymnal, Book of Common Praise, has more Thanksgiving Hymns, so instead they are lined up with the seven days in which Thanksgiving Day could land, plus an extra day before and after. Here’s the list:
- 21 Nov. #199 We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing
- 22 Nov. #200/201 Now thank we all our God
- 23 Nov. #202 Give thanks with a grateful heart (1978 praise song)
- 24 Nov. #203 Come, ye thankful people, come (Harvest Home)
- 25 Nov. #204 We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land
- 26 Nov. #205 Thank you, Lord (African-American spiritual)
- 27 Nov. #206/207 For the beauty of the earth
- 28 Nov. #208 Praise God, from whom all blessings flow
- 29 Nov. #209 Sing to the Lord of harvest
Some of these have two numbers because in this hymnal alternate tunes for the same lyrics get separate numbers – not all hymnals handle this the same way.
If you have a different hymnal at home, feel free to find these songs in your book, or simply read/sing through what you’ve got at an appropriate time. I sometimes wish we could have a “Thanksgiving Sunday” instead of Christ the King Sunday, so we could have a chance to sing some of these truly marvellous songs with the whole congregation, rather than the weekday chosen few.