Henry Alford (1810-1871) was a 19th-century Anglican leader who served for many years as the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. He was a scholar and poet, and is best remembered today for writing Alford's Greek Testament in 1872. When he was only 34, he wrote the poem that became a beloved Thanksgiving hymn, Come, Ye Thankful Come. One little-known fact is that this hymn is actually an exposition of the familiar parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). Verse 1 speaks of God as the Ultimate Harvester (v. 43), verse 2 explains how the wheat and tares grow together until the harvest (v. 38 & v. 30), verse 3 speaks of the angels gathering both the righteous and the unrighteous at the end of the age (vv. 30, 40-43), and the final verse is a prayer that we may be part of the end times "harvest of the righteous" when Jesus comes again (v. 43):
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.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto 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.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His 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 His garner evermore.
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 garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.
To sign up for Pastor Ray's free weekly sermon email list, click here. You can find his daily weblog, online sermons, travel schedule, and other resources at www.keepbelieving.com. You can write Pastor Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.