Nov. 18, 2018 - #4653 Music & the Spoken Word

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Conductor: Ryan Murphy
Organist: Brian Mathias
Announcer: Lloyd Newell

“Saints Bound for Heaven”1
American folk hymn
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“For the Beauty of the Earth”2,5
Music: Conrad Kocher
Lyrics: Folliott S. Pierpoint
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Now Thank We All Our God” (Organ solo)
Music: Johann Crüger
Arrangement: Michael Burkhardt

“Over the River and through the Wood”3
Lyrics: adapted by Lydia Maria Child
Arrangement: Ryan Murphy

“Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”4 from White Christmas
by Irving Berlin
Arrangement: Michael Davis

“Prayer of Thanksgiving”
Music: Edward Kremser, based on a Dutch melody
Lyrics: Theodore Baker and Julia Bulkley Cady Cory
Arrangement: Nathan Hofeins

“Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends”4,5
English folk tune
Lyrics: Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

  1. On the CD Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing and in the CD set Bravo! The #1 Albums.
  2. On the CDs 9/11: Rising Above and Love Is Spoken Here.
  3. On the CD Hallelujah!
  4. On the CD Peace Like a River
  5. In the CD set Anniversary Collection.

The Spoken Word

We Gather to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time of gathering. We gather together to enjoy a meal, to connect with loved ones, and to recognize and celebrate the good things in our lives. “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.”1

And in this changing, stressful world, we need such blessing more than ever. But in spite of any hardships we might be facing, in our Thanksgiving gatherings we humbly affirm that we have much to be thankful for—that our blessings outnumber our difficulties. And perhaps that’s the greatest gift we can offer—to live in thanksgiving daily, to acknowledge heaven’s hand in all things, and always, always to count our blessings.

It’s appropriate, then, to note that Thanksgiving Day as an official U.S. holiday has its roots in a period of American history when it may have been difficult to find reason to be grateful. It was during the dark days of the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln called for a day in November for “Thanksgiving and Praise.” He proclaimed: “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”2

Maybe that is the best way to “ask the Lord’s blessing”—to give thanks for the blessings we already have. A thankful heart is a soft heart, better able to receive the peace and reassurance we need. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that gratitude literally makes us feel better, both emotionally and physically. One study showed that when people expressed gratitude in a journal each day, they saw great improvements in their overall well-being.3

Sometimes we are being blessed even when we don’t realize it. If we just pause and reflect on all the good in our life, we will see that good things, however small, and better days, however distant, are ahead for us. This is why we gather to give thanks.

  1. “Prayer of Thanksgiving,” Hymns, no. 93.
  2. President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of October 3, 1863 (Presidential Proclamation 106), National Archives Catalog,
  3. See R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough, “Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 84, no. 2 (Feb. 2003), 377–89.