shepherd sounds: Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day

22 November 2012
10:00 am

Opening voluntary
Prelude on ‘Now thank we all our God’
Eric Thiman

Introit hymn 705
‘As those of old their first fruits brought’
 Frank von Christierson
‘Forest Green’
 English melody
 adapt. & harm. Ralph Vaughan Williams

Sequence hymn 288
‘Praise to God, immortal praise’
 Anna Laetitia Barbauld
 mel. Conrad Kocher
 arr. Wm. Henry Monk
 harm. The English Hymnal, 1906

Offertory voluntary
‘A carol of thanksgiving’
Russell Schulz

Communion voluntary
Prelude on ‘Now thank we all our God’
G.F. Kaufmann

Postcommunion hymn 397
‘Now thank we all our God’
[Nun danket alle Gott]
 Martin Rinckart
 tr. Catherine Winkworth
‘Nun danket alle Gott’
 mel. Johann Crüger
 harm. Wm. Henry Monk, after Felix Mendelssohn

Harvest festivals are some of the oldest religious observances, and several Christian feasts (some of them built upon pagan or Jewish festivals) have roots in agricultural rituals – not only Easter and Pentecost, whose agricultural roots are largely obscured by layers of both Christian and Jewish symbolism, but also, for example, Lammas (‘Loaf-Mass’, August 1) and the Rogation Days. A relative latecomer to this tradition is Thanksgiving Day, a holiday observed variously from early times in the United States of America and first made a fixed, official national holiday in 1863. Books of Common Prayer in the Episcopal Church had included a thanksgiving service since the beginning; in the 1928 book Thanksgiving Day was given the status of a votive Mass, and in 1979 it became a major feast. It is surely right that we should celebrate the liturgy known as the Eucharist (which of course means ‘Thanksgiving’) on this day, and right that our song should reflect our gratitude for God’s presence and providence, for the goodness and bounty of creation, and should remind and exhort us to share our gifts with those in need, so that we may ‘always seek to do good to one another and to all, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances’ (I Thessalonians 5.15–18).

Wherever you are, whether your nation or your church celebrates a harvest festival or not, whether or not it is harvest-time in your part of the world, we wish you God’s blessings and a grateful heart.

Eric Mellenbruch

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