What’s the Back Story of Those Familiar Thanksgiving Hymns?

Music editor Sigmund Spaeth (1885-1965) can tell you.

A photo of Sigmund Spaeth from his obituary, Advocate newspaper article 13 November 1965
Source: GenealogyBank.com, Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 13 November 1965, page 39

According to his obituary, Sigmund Spaeth turned his love of music and his uncanny ability to track down the origins of a tune or phrase

…into a profitable career after it became apparent to him that he could not make it as a professional musician.

An obituary for Sigmund Spaeth, Advocate newspaper article 13 November 1965
Source: GenealogyBank.com, Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 13 November 1965, page 39

In his regular column “Music for Everybody” on 22 November 1953, he commented on some favorite old Thanksgiving songs.

The masthead for the musical column written by Sigmund Spaeth, Springfield Union newspaper article 22 November 1953
Source: GenealogyBank.com, Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 22 November 1953, page 70

“Now Thank We All Our God”

An article about the Thanksgiving hymn “Now Thank We All Our God,” Springfield Union newspaper article 22 November 1953
Source: GenealogyBank.com, Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 22 November 1953, page 70

According to Spaeth, this tune was probably composed by “a German organist named Johann Cruger” and the “words ‘Nun danket alle Gott’ were written by a contemporary poet, Martin Rinkart.”

Listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42ZqYk1YwRA

“Prayer of Thanksgiving”

This is probably the most sung and recognized of the Thanksgiving hymns. It begins “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.”

An article about the Thanksgiving hymn “Prayer of Thanksgiving,” Springfield Union newspaper article 22 November 1953
Source: GenealogyBank.com, Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 22 November 1953, page 70

Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeBWmU0tx6A

“We Plow the Fields” & “Come Ye Thankful People, Come”

An article about Thanksgiving hymns, Springfield Union newspaper article 22 November 1953
Source: GenealogyBank.com, Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 22 November 1953, page 70

Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msOzJ6DY7EA

“Bringing in the Sheaves”

An article about the hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves,” Springfield Union newspaper article 22 November 1953
Source: GenealogyBank.com, Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 22 November 1953, page 70

Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u67Lb1RyXTU

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving hymns? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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