Our Thanksgiving Heritage

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I'm almost exactly 24 hours late with this, but here is a fantastic post from American Daughter.

Our Heritage

Cross-posted from American Daughter

Have we forgotten the words?

On this Thanksgiving holiday, please take time to enjoy the verses of two traditional American songs, the Thanksgiving Hymn and the Thanksgiving Prayer. They affirm the gratitude of a people for their God.

The copies we are sharing here did not come from a church hymnal. They were transcribed from a songbook distributed in our public school systems in the year 1945. This book was in every literate home in the United States at that time, and was called I Hear America Singing, or more formally Twice 55 Community Songbook.

The assertion that our nation ever intended to separate our devotion to God from our public spaces and our public life is a blatant lie. Our philosophy of reliance on divine guidance motivated the founding fathers, permeates the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and is inscribed on our original monuments and government buildings.

The worthy gentlemen who drafted the Constitution only intended that membership in a particular religious denomination must never be made a prerequisite for holding public office, and that citizens should never be forced to subscribe to a specific denomination. They were still mindful of the bitter religious strife between Catholics and Protestants in England, and wanted to ensure that the new republic got started on a more ecumenical footing.

The insidious erosion of our patriotic traditions and our national identity must not be permitted to continue. Every thinking American must stand against the revision of our historical records and the activism of judges who would destroy the ideological foundations of our liberty.

But at this time of joyful harvest and quiet prayer, just savor the words of these two beloved hymns of gratitude.

Thanksgiving Hymn

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 offences purge away;
Give His angels charge at last,  In the fire the tares to cast,
But the fruitful ears to store  In His garner evermore.

THE WORDS--Henry Alford, an English clergyman, writer of note, and Dean of Canterbury, was born in London in 1833 and died in Canterbury in 1871. His literary labours extended to every department of literature but he was especially well known as a writer and translator of hymns. This is his best known and most popular hymn.

THE MUSIC--George Elvey, the composer, was born at Canterbury, England. He was for forty-seven years organist at St. George's chapel, in Windsor Castle.

Thanksgiving Prayer

We gather together  to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens  His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing  cease them from distressing,
Sing praises to His name,  He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us,  our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining  His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning  the fight we were winning,
Thou, Lord, wast at our side,  Let the glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee,  Thou leader in battle,
And pray that Thou still  our Defender wilt be.
Let Thy congregation  escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised!  And Thy people be free.

THE WORDS--Anon.

THE MUSIC--Netherlands Tune

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10 Comments

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

can we please not politicize Thanksgiving? That's what Christmas is for!!!

zimzo said:

Seriously, is nothing sacred?

I guess all speech is, in the end, political. We had a turkey and a ham in our house today and, I believe, we thereby marginalized nearly one third of the Earth's inhabitants.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

ah ha! the old "everything is political." very nice, very nice

e-tranger said:

"Fantastic"?

Ick.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

wait a second! 1945? Man, I think the 1940's left a lot to be desired in the "organized religion is a good thing" department. in 1945 religious types were using christianity to justify racial segregation in the US. In Europe, people of the Other religion were being blamed for all the world's ills. Why would we want to go back to that sort of mentality? It's exactly the sort of convoluted interpretations of religion that were interjected into the public domain in and around the 1940s which has led to the sort of skepticism toward the mixing of religion and politics that we see today.

a quick story to illustrate the point: I have a friend who's grandparents lived in Poland during the pogroms (20s-30s). They managed to escape, but a bunch of their family members were killed. They made it to South America, where my friend's mother was born. Out of fear, her parents kept her Jewish history a secret from her until they immigrated to the US when she was a teenager. 20-some years later, her daughter (my friend) was in the choir at her public high school. The choir teacher decided to do a whole concert with traditional christian hymns. Her mother was quite upset, and complained to the principle and choir teacher, who argued that the songs were chosen for their cultural significance, and they weren't meant to make non-christians feel out of place. But this sort of stuff does make people feel out of place, sort of excluded. It marginalizes their different belief systems. For people who's lives have been impacted by religious intolerance, or who's family history is full of stories of religious persecution, this sort of justification based on "it's our heritage" doesn't bode well.

those hymns are innocent enough on their own, and organized religion in general has the potential to do much good in the world, but throughout history the intermingling of religion and politics has probably been the source of more negatives than positives. given the sort of religious intolerance we've seen in the past, I think we can do just fine without them, or any references to god and his kingdom and his angels in public places.

This post is longer than I thought it would be, but there it is. I'm thankful that I live in a country where the presence of religion in public places is kept to a minimum.

No Relation said:

If you're going to talk about religion in the '40s, don't forget about the Japanese being Shinto slaves to their emperor.

I see the American situation a little differently. Not that I was around to see it first hand, but I believe the 1940s sowed the seeds of the civil rights movement. People of every background served America honorably in WWII. I believe this had a direct influence on President Truman's decision to integrate the military. Sure, the injustice stuck around for a good while, but think about what a huge milestone that was, despite a few "religious types" who were still trying to justify their racism with the Bible.

e-tranger said:

Since we're getting political about Thanksgiving, let me say this -- one thing we should be thankful for is the separation of church and state.

Many if not most of the "worthy gentlemen who drafted the Constitution," were Deists. "American Daughter" (excuse me while I cringe) would be scandalized by their religious beliefs.

Read closely what she has written: "membership in a PARTICULAR religious denomination must never be made a prerequisite for holding public office, and ... citizens should never be forced to subscribe to a SPECIFIC denomination" (caps mine).

The clear implication is that she believes that religious belief IS a prerequisite to office holding. And that only those with such belief can be good citizens or patriots.

Of course, this is nowhere in our Constitution, which is a thoroughgoing secular document.

I haven't met AD, and don't think I'd care to, but I doubt she'd consider Wicans or Muslims as fulfilling her assertedly ecumenical test for office-holding or good citizenship.

Sod her.

Make no doubt about it -- AD would like to use our public institutions for the indoctrination of her sort of religious belief and she's pissed that the courts have put the brakes on that.

On Thanksgiving Day several hundred co-religionists slaughtered each other in Iraq.

Thank God for The Wall.

Everybody makes good points here but the vitriolic ones seem a bit off base considering the post by American Daughter states simple historical facts and nothing more.

"Make no doubt about it" a few folks need to take a chill pill.

Jack said:

E-tranger:

It is perfectly within the right of the electorate individually to require officeholders to hold particular religious beliefs, because such beliefs can be reasonably assumed to affect one's decision-making. Codifying that requirement into law is unconstitutional, but it is not unconstitutional to vote against someone because of that person's religious beliefs.

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