Behind the Song: Give Thanks with a Thankful heart
In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I thought we would look at the popular worship song Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.
Give Thanks was written in 1978 by Henry Smith.
Henry Smith, Jr. was born in 1952 Crossnore, North Carolina.
Henry Smith has a degenerative condition that left him legally blind.
Upon graduating from college, he became discouraged when he was unable to find a job. His pastor at his church in Williamsburg, Virginia inspired him in a sermon. The pastor made a reference to how Jesus made himself poor to make others rich through him.
Smith told the St. Augustine Chronicle, “In 1978, in an apartment in Williamsburg, Virginia, I wrote Give Thanks. Shortly thereafter my wife, Cindy, and I sang the song at our church. We repeated it a number of times over a period of several weeks.”
After Smith began performing the song in church, the song was heard by a U.S. Military officer who took the song to Eurpoe. The song spared in popularity.
Smith went on to say, “In 1986, eight years after the writing of the song, a friend brought a cassette tape to me and said, ‘Listen to this song and see if you have ever heard it. After listening to the selection I said, ‘I wrote that song!’ My friend had ordered the tape from a music company, and ‘Give Thanks’ was listed on the cassette label as ‘author unknown.’”
The song was published by Hosanna! Music and later that year Don Moen on his album
Give Thanks in 1986. The song has been credited erroneously to Moen at times.
Smith said, “I called the company and told them I had written the song. Their response was, ‘Good! We have been trying to find you.’ Since then more than 50 recording companies have produced ‘Give Thanks.’ It has been published in a number of hymn books.”
Smith and his wife attended a concert by Don Moen, who did not know they were in the audience. When the song was performed in the Russian language he said, “My wife and I began to weep. We were overwhelmed to hear my song being sung in that language. Moen had no idea we were in the audience.”
Henry Smith is said to have written over 300 other unpublished compositions. Give Thanks is the only song he’s written that has been published.
Give Thanks continues to be a popular song, especially during the Thanksgiving season.
What are you thankful for?
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