||Smith, Henry, 1952-|
Henry Smith must have seen life this way: God’s side of the equation outweighs whatever is on the opposite side. At least, that’s what the words he wrote indicate. God is the ‘all’ of existence, so that I am called to ‘give thanks’ six times in the song’s opening words. When I’m done here on planet Earth, all that will matter is what lies ahead – in God’s presence. That must have been alluring for Henry Smith, who was struggling to find steady work, despite having just earned his college degree. When he says ‘the poor’ are rich in “Give Thanks”, that’s an echo from his difficulty in finding work. His eyesight was also failing because of a degenerative condition that would eventually leave him legally blind, certainly a ‘weakness’ that he expressed in the song as his eyesight faded. Thankfully, theological training informed him that God’s side of the equals sign was what mattered. And other parts of his life further motivated the song that leapt from his heart. He’d found someone to love, his future wife. And, he was grateful to be through school, which his deteriorating vision had made difficult, and to be back home in a church he loved in Williamsburg, Virginia. If God was all Henry Smith had in 1978, He could be praised, and yet He provided even more. It’s no surprise that Smith’s heart overflowed in a song. And, the song resounds still in Henry Smith’s hometown and around the globe today.