Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

                                               Psalm 100
             1   Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
             2   Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his
                  presence with singing.
             3   Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath
                  made us, and not we ourseleves; we are his people,
                  and the sheep of his pasture.
             4   Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his
                  courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless
                  his name.
             5   For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting;
                  and his truth endureth to all generations.

I went to school—Kindergarten and First Grade, that is, in the late 1950s. It was a golden age of the United States of America. We had, with our Allies, beaten back the forces bent on world domination in both the European and Asian theatres in the 40s and had contained the forces of communism above the 38th parallel on the Korean peninsula in the early 50s. Eisenhower was in the White House, and the U.S. was at peace and prosperous, beginning its climb to a position of preeminence in the latter half of the 20th century. These are events for which I am thankful
I don’t remember this, of course; I was in Kindergarten and the First Grade, after all. In fact, I don’t remember much from this time, least of all how those wonderful people called teachers taught me how to read and write and cipher (actually, we never called it ciphering; it was just plain, old arithmetic), some of the most important events of my life. For those people and those times, I am extremely thankful.

I do remember, however, that this was a time before God was exiled from the public schools. I remember vividly during the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday that we would read Psalms and sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator. That was a thankful time, indeed.

I know as surely as my name is Jim that we read at least Psalm 100: "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD." Of course, at that time we memorized the psalm in the King James or Authorized Version of the Bible. To this day I remember and love this psalm. I am very thankful for the Psalms, which show us how to praise and teach us of God and the truth of God.
I remember, too, the harvest hymns that were part of the remembrance and celebration of Thanksgiving in public schools in those days. These psalms and hymns are among the reasons that this holiday is my favorite of the American holidays. It has always been about praise and giving thanks to the Creator of all. The feasting and family get-togethers are important, joyful, and treasured corollaries, but the premise of the holiday, its reason for being, is thanksgiving to One greater than ourselves, one worthy of our thanks, who gives us the breath of life and the ability both to enjoy the fruits of creation and to return thanks for them.
Here are some of the hymns I think I remember from school, and that I know I remember from church and from this holiday season. (I won’t bet my life that we sang all of these in the public schools, but I know we sang some of them.) I love them all. I have given the first stanza of each. For the complete lyrics, click on the title.
                               Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
                     Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
                     All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
                     God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
                     Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home. 

                         We Gather Together
                    We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
                    He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
                    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
                    Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own. 

                           For The Beauty Of The Earth
                    For the beauty of the earth,
                    For the beauty of the skies,
                    For the love which from our birth
               Over and around us lies,

                    Lord of all, to thee we raise
                    This our hymn of grateful praise.

                        Now Thank We All Our God

                    Now thank we all our God,
                    With heart and hands and voices,
                    Who wondrous things hath done,
                    In whom his world rejoices;
                    Who from our mother's arms
                    Hath blessed us on our way
                    With countless gifts of love,
                    And still is ours to-day.

                        This Is My Father's World

                     This is my Father's world,
                     and to my listening ears
                     all nature sings, and round me rings
                     the music of the spheres.

My Thanksgiving thanksgiving 2010
Thinking and Thanking
Thankful to be so Thankful
Thanksgiving 2005
A Turkey by any Other Name
Give Thanks in Everything

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