Come, ye thankful people, come

Representative Text

1 Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

2 All the world is God's own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

3 For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.

4 Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

United Methodist Hymnal, 1989

Author: Henry Alford

Alford, Henry, D.D., son of  the Rev. Henry Alford, Rector of Aston Sandford, b. at 25 Alfred Place, Bedford Row, London, Oct. 7, 1810, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in honours, in 1832. In 1833 he was ordained to the Curacy of Ampton. Subsequently he held the Vicarage of Wymeswold, 1835-1853,--the Incumbency of Quebec Chapel, London, 1853-1857; and the Deanery of Canterbury, 1857 to his death, which took. place  at  Canterbury, Jan. 12, 1871.  In addition he held several important appointments, including that of a Fellow of Trinity, and the Hulsean Lectureship, 1841-2. His literary labours extended to every department of literature, but his noblest undertaking was his edition of the Greek Testament, the result… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Come, ye thankful people, come
Author: Henry Alford (1844)
Meter: D
Language: English
Liturgical Use: Scripture Songs


Scripture References: st. 2 = Mark 4:28 st. 3 = Matt. 13:41-43 st. 4 = Rev. 22:20 Henry Alford (b. London, England, 1810; d. Canterbury, England, 1871) wrote this text and published it in seven stanzas in his Psalms and Hymns (1844). He revised and shortened it for publication in his Poetical Works (1865) and made final changes for his Year of Praise (1867). The latter version is the source of the further revised Psalter Hymnal text. Written for village harvest festivals in England, the text uses imagery found in two gospel parables: the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29) and the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). However, the initial agricultural harvest theme becomes an eschatological metaphor for the final judgment when the angels will gather God's chosen people into the "glorious harvest home" and cast the evil "weeds" into the "fire." Thus the text provocatively combines language and imagery that represent annual harvests as well as the ultimate consummation of history. Alford was born into a family of clergy. He received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, and was ordained in the Church of England in 1833. He became dean of Canterbury Cathedral in 1857, a position he held until his death. A renowned scholar, Alford wrote a four-volume commentary on the Greek New Testament, which became a standard work in its field. He was also a voluminous poet and hymn writer and published Poetical Works (2 vols, 1845) and Hymns for the Sundays and Festivals Throughout the Year (1836). Liturgical Use: Best suited for services that focus on the task or mission of the church in the world; associated in popular thought with harvest thanksgiving services, its use on such occasions merits some comment about the meaning of the harvest metaphor. Also use or Pentecost season; worship that focuses on Christ's second coming. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987 ================= Come, ye thankful people, come. H. Alford. [Harvest.] First published in his Psalms and Hymns, 1844, No. 116, and subsequently, after revision, in his Poetical Works, 1865, and his Year of Praise, 1867, in 7 stanzas of 8 lines. In 1861 the compilers of Hymns Ancient & Modern included an altered version in that Collection. This was repudiated by tho author, but still retained by the compilers of Hymns Ancient & Modern, with an explanatory note in the Preface in some of the subsequent editions. The revised text in Alford's Poetical Works, 1865, is the authorized text, and that usually given in modern hymnals. This hymn has attained a greater popularity and more extensive use, both in Great Britain and America, than any other of the author's hymns. --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



George J. Elvey (PHH 48) composed ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR as a setting for James Montgomery's text "Hark! The Song of Jubilee," with which it was published in Edward H. Thorne's Selection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1858). The tune has been associated with Alford's text since publication of the hymn in th…

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