Come, Ye Thankful People Come
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.
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