Behind the Hymn: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come is a harvest hymn that was written in 1844.  The song was written by Henry Alford.

Henry Alford

Henry Alford

George J. Elvey

George J. Elvey

In the days when most people survived off of the land, they understood the importance of the harvest.  There was an urgency to safely gather the harvest before the winter storms rolled in.

The first stanza is written to be an invitation to give thanks to God.  The second and third stanzas are a commentary on the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, which are recorded in the gospel of Matthew.  The last stanza is a prayer for the Lord’s return.

Henry Alford was born on October 7, 1810 in London.  At sixteen years of age, he felt the presence of God and gave his life to Christ.  He followed in the footsteps of his ancestors and became a clergyman and was a prominent Greek scholar.  He was the author of forty-eight hymns, wrote a number of hymns and published a hymnbook.  At the age of 47, he was appointed Dean of Canterbury, a position he held until his death on January 12, 1871.

The lyrics were set to the tune, St. George’s, Windsor written by George J. Elvey. The tune first appeared with Alford’s text in the Anglican hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern.

George Elvey was born on March 27, 1916 and served as organist at the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle for 47 years.  in 1871, he was knighted by Queen Victoria.  He died on December 9, 1893.

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