First posted October 2007
We went for too many years without being able to sing "We Plow the Fields and Scatter" and "Come Ye Thankful People Come" at Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving, our first at our current church, it was an incredible blessing (and a bit of a nostalgia trip?) to be in a congregation singing the "proper Thanksgiving songs" and to be surrounded by the same old pumpkins and wheat and gourds and leaves...
Maybe that means more to me than to some other people, and again not because of the spiritual significance of thankfulness and God's provision, but because my Dad Squirrel was, for many years, the guy in our church who put out the pumpkins and wheat and gourds and leaves...and sometimes we got to help him too. I remember the quietness of being in the sanctuary with hardly anybody there, most of the lights off, and having everything ready for the next day. I remember my dad and my uncles being in the adult choir, singing Thanksgiving hymns. I remember being in the Junior Choir, somewhere around age nine, and singing "When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way" up there at the front, surrounded by the pumpkins...I always connected that hymn, for some reason, with a couple of evening trips we had made to friends' farms--something to do with the image of lanterns (or headlights) lighting up dark cornfields, shedding "glory" on our way (or at least keeping us from driving into the cornfield). (I think there was some Holman Hunt mixed in there too.) I remember even being out there IN the field at dusk for some reason--I think we were playing hide-and-seek with some cousins--and it getting darker, and the different earth and plant smells (we were city kids, remember) imprinting themselves on my nose.
All that comes back every year; I suppose I don't need the physical pumpkins and wheat and gourds and leaves to remind me. But they do anyway.
We plow the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
He only is the Maker of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey Him, by Him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, His children, He gives our daily bread.
We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, and food;
No gifts have we to offer, for all Thy love imparts,
But that which Thou desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.
Words by Matthias Claudius
Available on Hymntime.com