Thursday, November 27, 2008

All Good Gifts Around Us

We plow the fields, and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand;
Who sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank you, God, O thank you,God
For all your love.

You only are the Maker
Of all things near and far;
You paint the wayside flower,
You light the evening star;
The winds and waves obey you,
By you the birds are fed;
Much more to us, your children,
You give our daily bread.

We thank you, then, Creator,
For all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food;
No gifts have we to offer,
For all your love imparts,
But that which you most welcome,
Our humble, thankful hearts.

Matthias Claudius, 1782; tr. Jane M. Campbell, 1861; alt.
Tune: WIR PFLUGEN ( with refrain)
Johann A.P. Schulz, 1800

This is part of a longer work by Claudius celebrating the harvest thanksgiving festivals in northern Germany. Jane Montgomery Campbell's translation ("not too literal," according to the Hymnal 1940 Companion) takes selected verses to assemble this hymn, beginning with Claudius's third verse:

Wir pflugen und wir streuen
Den Samen auf des Land,
Doch Wachstrum und Gedeiben
Steht nicht in unser Hand.

The tune by Johann Schulz is a setting of an older German folk song, and matched by him to Claudius's text in 1800. It has become widely known and used for this hymn, adopted in several denominations for our American Thanksgiving. Oddly, the Methodist Hymnal of 1935 sets this text to Barnby's ST. ANSELM (not using the refrain).

Happy Thanksgiving to all, wherever you may be spending this holiday.

P.S. The picture above is again from my own church, taken by a friend.


Leland Bryant Ross said...

I love this thanksgiving hymn; the girlfolk of my fundie cousin's brood do a lovely a cappella version. To WIR PFLÜFEN, of course; I can't imagine why a hymnal editor would turn down the tune. Yet...

In addition to the 1935 Methodist Hymnal, I see it set to St. Anselm in the 1956 and 1975 (Southern) Baptist Hymnals. The 1933 Reorganized LDS Saints' Hymnal sets it to BERTHOLD, and the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal sets it to the Finnish tune NYLAND...

De gustibus, y'know...

Leland aka Haruo

Dorothy said...

What a beautiful Thanksgiving hymn!

I hope your Thanksgiving Day was truly blessed, C.W.S.! Mine was and still continues to be.

C.W.S. said...

Yes, mine was just fine, even though we did not sing this hymn in church. I have fond memories of singing it as grace before dinner on occasion.

And NYLAND seems even more odd.

Josh Osbun said...

Didn't John-Michael Tebelak use these words in his musical Godspell?

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Yes indeed, along with "Turn back, O man", another great hymn (and one that cries out, "Inclusivize me!"). Our local Baptist association, Evergreen, put on a wonderful production of Godspell a week ago as a fundraiser for homeless ministries; I hope it made money! My pastor, Judy Gay, had two bit parts (priest and police officer). -Leland aka Haruo

C.W.S. said...

Some who know me may be surprised (or maybe not) to hear that I have never seen (nor even listened to) GODSPELL all the way through. So it's interesting to hear about this text being included.

We did use Turn back, turn back in our project though I'm not sure that was our own revision or a Unitarian one previously done.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

yureel a yotta see it sometime