"WE THANK THEE, LORD"
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Ps. 68.19)
INTRO.: The idea of expressing thanksgiving to God for all His benefits is taught throughout the scriptures. "Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our Salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms" (Ps. 95.1-2). From our own nation’s history, we are familiar with the story of the Pilgrims of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts who, after an extremely hard winter, set apart a day of thanksgiving to God as they celebrated the harvest. So far as historical records are concerned, the United States was the first nation to proclaim an official national day of thanksgiving, which began with Abraham Lincoln in 1863. In 1941, the United States Congress passed a joint resolution naming the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day.
A hymn which expresses thanks to God for all His benefits is "We Thank Thee, Lord" (#10 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Albert H. Hutchinson. No conclusive information is available concerning this author or the origin of this hymn. It was published successively in Songs of Worship (Canada), Hymns for the Widening Kingdom, and The Methodist Hymnal of 1935. The Beacon Hymnal of 1924 gives the date of writing as 1909. The tune (Oldbridge or Thanksgiving) was composed by Robert Newton Quaile, who was born in County Limerick, Ireland, in 1867, the son of an Irish Methodist minister. An amateur musician, he was engaged in business at Mallow in County Cork. This particular melody was produced in 1903 and first appeared in The English Hymnal published at London in 1906.
Quaile is credited with a number of tunes. Along with two others, this one was also included in the English Methodist Sunday School Hymnal of 1910. As a result of the political and economic difficulties that existed in Ireland during the early 1900’s, all of his possessions were burned in 1920. He died in 1927. Among hymnbooks in my possession, in addition to The Methodist Hymnal of 1935, the text, with a different tune, was used in The Methodist Hymnal of 1964. The song is also found in The Broadman Hymnal (Baptist) of 1940 and Hymns for the Living Church (interdenominational) published by Hope Publishing Company in 1974. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use among churches of Christ, the only one to include the song that I know of is Hymns for Worship.
This song identifies some of the blessings of God for which we can be thankful.
I. Stanza 1 reminds us of the general blessings that God has bestowed on mankind
"For all the blessings of the year, For all the friends we hold so dear,
For peace on earth, both far and near, We thank Thee, Lord."
A. Every year, we all receive numerous benefits from God’s goodness: Ps. 65.11
B. Among these benefits is the companionship of friends: Prov. 17.17
C. Another such benefit is whatever degree of peace in which we might live: 1 Tim. 2.1-2
II. Stanza 2 reminds us of all the personal blessings that God has given every one of us
"For life and health, those common things, Which every day and hour [some books have moment] brings,
For home, where our affection clings, We thank Thee, Lord."
A. God is the source of our very lives: Acts 17.28
B. And God is the source of all the benefits that come to our lives every day and hour because every good and perfect gift comes from Him: Jas. 1.17
C. One of the greatest of these benefits is our homes: Gen. 2.24, Ps. 127.3-5
III. Stanza 3 reminds us of all te spiritual blessings that God has made available in Christ
"For love of Thine which never tires, Which all our better thought inspires,
And warms our lives with heavenly fires, We thank Thee, Lord."
A. We certainly can be thankful for the great love of God: Jn. 3.16
B. Also, we can be thankful for the better thoughts that His love inspires in us: Phil. 4.8
C. And we can be thankful for the the joy and peace in our hearts that His love brings: Rom. 5.1-5
CONCL.: Our Thanksgiving Day has become a wonderful time to visit family and friends, eat together, and enjoy one another’s company. But whatever we may do as part of our personal celebration of this national holiday, let us not forget about God, but rather, "Come before His presence with thanksgiving" as well. And let us also be careful not to relegate the idea of being thankful for God’s blessings just one day a year. Instead, we need to pause every day, take stock of God’s benefits, and say, "We Thank Thee, Lord."