20 Thanksgiving Hymns to Celebrate Gratitude
As we approach the Thanksgiving season, it can be a wonderful boost to our mental health, our spirits, and our hearts to engage in the practice of daily thanksgiving. There is an extensive body of research done in the past twenty years that has demonstrated strong positive effects of thanksgiving on the human body and mind. Thanksgiving hymns, integrated into a month-long celebration of gratitude, can give us a powerful boost of well-being to fortify us for the business of the Christmas season.
Traditional Thanksgiving hymns are what we usually think about when planning services during this season, but there are dozens of other hymns that will inspire us to greater gratitude.
Some of the benefits of gratitude on the human mind and body are: improved mental and physical health, increased energy, reduced aggression, greater empathy and openness to relationships, better sleep, and stronger resilience. Consider incorporating hymns of Thanksgiving and gratitude into your daily private worship in the weeks leading up to and following Thanksgiving and explore the benefits in your own life!
Many of us keep gratitude journals. Adding one or two of these hymns to your daily life each week can amplify the impact of your habit of gratitude. Try it and journal the impact on your heart, mind, and strength.
5 Traditional Thanksgiving Hymns
Here are five hymns we generally associate with traditional Thanksgiving worship.
1. Now Thank We All Our God
This hymn written by Martin Rinkart brings thoughts of organs and high ceilings but is also down to earth with its lyrics. The second verse seems particularly relevant to our times, “O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us, to keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills of this world in the next.”
2. For the Beauty of the Earth
Written by Folliot Pierpoint in 1864, the lyrics of this hymn are comprehensive in their praise of a myriad of aspects of our world, relationships, and spiritual blessings.
3. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
This hymn is a celebration of harvest time and God’s provision. Though many of us don’t live as close to the earth as when this hymn was written, our hearts understand the joy of a full harvest. The lyrics, written by Henry Alford, are a call to come together in gratitude for all God provides. With the new generation’s movement back toward homesteading, it’s a good time to revive this hymn.
4. Count Your Blessings
This hymn was ahead of its time, promoting the practice of counting our blessings. It commends the naming of blessings to live the spirits and minister to the heart in times of trial. The tune sounds a little dated but it’s still a light and inspiring piece to enjoy.
5. We Gather Together
This Dutch hymn celebrates the coming together of families and of God’s people to worship and thank God corporately. While it dates back to the 1600s, the words seem as relevant today as they were then—“Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, whose kingdom calls all to the love which endures.” And many musicians are updating the sound with modern instrumentation.
Besides traditional Thanksgiving hymns, there are other hymns and songs that turn our hearts and minds to gratitude. Below are hymns that remind us to be grateful for blessings, for the fellowship of other believers, and for our salvation in Christ.
Or, if you’re preparing meals with people who don’t necessarily share your love of hymns but want to be inspired to greater gratitude, there are several contemporary songs that remind us of all our blessings in God. You can find them HERE.
5 Thanksgiving Hymns about Blessings
While not necessarily being associated with the holiday, these five hymns remind us about one of Thanksgiving's core themes: God's blessings in both the good and the bad times.
1. It Is Well with My Soul
This classic song reminds us of all God’s blessings even in the midst of life’s sorrow, storms, and trials. Horatio Spafford wrote it following the loss of all of his daughters at sea. The opening verse tells the whole truth: “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
2. Blessed Assurance
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory devine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” Fanny Crosby knew how to write the blessings of our souls into powerful lyrics.
3. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
This bright hymn, set to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is regal in its sound but humble in its adoration and thanks to God for many things we’re prone to take for granted. The second verse details much for which we can be grateful! “All Your works with joy surround You, Earth and heav'n reflect Your rays, Stars and angels sing around You, Center of unbroken praise; Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea, Chanting bird and flowing fountain, Praising You eternally!”
Another short hymn we take for granted is the Doxology. Singing this throughout the day can be a quick reminder to turn our eyes and grateful thoughts toward God.
5. Great is Thy Faithfulness
The chorus of this grand hymn written by Thomas Chisholm reminds us to be thankful for God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. “Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see, All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
5 Thanksgiving Hymns about Fellowship
Gratefulness at God's blessings is a vital part of Thanksgiving, but it is also a time to gather with fellow Christians and celebrate community. These five hymns remind us about the gift of fellowship that is also central to Thanksgiving.
1. A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Martin Luther certainly knew how to fortify our spirits with powerful lyrics and remind us to be grateful for our God and for one another! This hymn is powerful to sing with others and remember, together, all that is ours in Christ.
2. Blest Be the Tie that Binds
John Fawcett wrote this beautiful celebration of Christian fellowship after his small country congregation poured out so much love in bidding him goodbye, he changed his plans and remained with them throughout his ministry.
3. Lead on O King Eternal
This hymn is often overlooked these days but Ernest W. Shurtleff wrote rich lyrics like “Lead on, O King eternal, till sin's fierce war shall cease, and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace. For not with swords' loud clashing or roll of stirring drums with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.” Words to swell the heart toward thanksgiving!
4. Break Thou the Bread of Life
For a quieter, more contemplative hymn that leads to deeper gratitude for God’s Word, you cannot top Mary A. Lathbury’s hymn.
5. Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
Dorothy A. Thrupp gave us this lovely meditation about Jesus’ careful shepherding of us. Remember His kind care and combine it with a meditation on Psalm 23 for a day sure to fill your soul with grateful thoughts.
5 Thanksgiving Hymns about Salvation
The greatest gift we celebrate at Thanksgiving is the gift of salvation, provided by grace and not by works, which makes it possible for us to have fellowship with others and rejoice in the blessings we have. Here are five hymns that help us give thanks for that greatest gift.
1. And Can It Be That I Should Gain
This is a wonderful read-a-loud hymn. The tune can be tricky but the power of the words will remind you of the humble gratitude you have for your redemption in Christ. Charles Wesley knows how to fill us with truthful thoughts that lead to lifted spirits.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing—Robert Robinson wrote this celebration of knowing that even if we wander, Jesus will receive us to Him. He is truly the fount of all our blessings!
3. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Just the title of this hymn, written by by preacher Joseph M. Scriven to comfort his mother, reminds us to be grateful for the salvation that has made us friends with God. When the holiday season becomes heavy to bear, remember to “take it to the Lord in prayer.”
4. O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Again, Charles Wesley was so grateful for salvation, he wished for a thousand tongues to sing God’s praise. Let his gratitude inspire yours!
5. Amazing Grace
Whether you enjoy the traditional version of this hymn written by John Newton or any of the more contemporary updates, it certainly inspires your heart to express gratitude for salvation.
In the days and weeks leading to Thanksgiving and the holiday season, consider making a playlist of hymns, contemporary worship, and other songs that inspire your heart to gratitude. Not only will it be a blessing in our Father’s ears, it will strengthen and uplift you body, mind, and soul!
Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books including Running from a Crazy Man and The Art of Hard Conversations. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.