Come, Ye Thankful People, Come :: By Lynda Janzen

“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and song from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the LORD, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of Our LORD Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18c-20).

Today, the 11th of October, we in Canada are celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Yesterday we gave thanks to the LORD for His amazing provision for all of us – the bounty that is coming in off the fields right now – His love for us shown by “giving us our daily bread.”

At Thanksgiving, we sing some of the greatest old hymns ever written. And these hymns remind me of the Scripture verse at the top of this article in which Apostle Paul urges the Ephesians to sing and make music from their hearts, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in Jesus’ Name.

Paul says to make music from our hearts to the LORD.

That tells me that God has already put a song in my heart which He wants me to sing to Him. From my heart to His!

“Sing and make music from your heart to the LORD.”

Because the old hymns are based on Scripture, what nuggets of comfort, joy and thankfulness might we expose, looking closely at a hymn, especially in light of the verses (above) from Ephesians So, let’s get to it. Let’s see what the LORD is saying back to us in response to our song to Him.

The hymn is “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” an English harvest festival song written by Henry Alford in 1844, with music by George J. Elvey. Along with each verse of this song is a companion verse from the Bible, which we will unpack as we go through. At the end, we will see what the LORD God is saying through His own Word to us, His thankful people.

First verse:

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.

Scripture Verse: Philippians 4:19

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

Previous to this verse, the apostle has been thanking the people of the church at Philippi for supplying him in his need. In verse 16, Paul refers to the time when he was in Thessalonica; the Philippians sent things that were needed, not just once, but multiple times.

Matthew Henry comments that “It is a good work to succour and help a good minister in trouble. The nature of true Christian sympathy is not only to feel concern for our friends in their troubles but to do what we can to help them.”

The Apostle Paul was often in trouble and need, suffering multiple imprisonments and constant deprivation. Through it all, he learned to trust the LORD that these states of confinement and lack would not last. He made the best of every situation, both positive and negative. Paul is a perfect role model for our times, for the apostle shows us how to set aside pride, doubt and fear, not dwelling on them. He put all his focus on Jesus, with the knowledge that focusing on the negative would have left him in discontentment. Putting Jesus at the center of his being, Paul learned to be content in every situation.

This is an attitude we would all do well to cultivate, learning to live in the Will of God in any circumstance. Lusting after things we don’t have, whether material or emotional, can make for discontentment, even if we are in favorable circumstances. For example, most of us in North America, Europe and Australia live at a standard that would have blown away our great grandparents. Yet we ‘kvetch’ constantly about inconsequential things. For example, how can we complain about rain spoiling a weekend at the beach when there are areas in the world suffering from drought? How can we complain to a waiter about serving a meal that’s less than piping hot when there are people in the world who will not eat today?

The lesson is to yield to God in all things, praying for patience when we are abused in some manner, as well as for a humble spirit like Jesus when we start to think it is because of our own efforts that we are flying high.

There are some we know who have acquired this state, who seem always to be on an even keel – neither depressed when down nor proud when prosperous. Just grateful all the time, knowing God will provide for them whatever it is they need. “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

Second and Third verses:

All the world is God’s own field, from 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 offensive 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.

Scripture Verses: Matthew 13:37-43, wherein Jesus explains the parable of the weeds.

“The One Who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdoms. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil…. Then the righteous will shine like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.”

As the song says, ‘All the world is God’s own field.’ Among the grain sown by Him are weeds or tares, sown by the evil one. The two grow up together until the harvest, that is, the end of the age. We live in a fallen world where the righteous rub shoulders with evil and evil-doers. As the Old Testament says, the rain falls on both the good and the evil. But here, Jesus is saying that at harvest, God knows the good from the evil and separates them out. The LORD God is getting ready for a harvest of good wholesome grain, pure and clean.

And just as weeds are yanked out of the ground by a farmer and thrown into a fire, so it will be at the end of the age.

In a later passage in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus talks about the Son of Man, that is Himself, separating the sheep from the goats. This passage actually describes the last judgment. It is my personal belief that Jesus is talking to the Jews here.

Whereas in the Parable of the Weeds, He is referring to those who follow Him. Some will grow into strong grain while others will be sown in the same field by the evil one; that is, false Christians will intermingle with true Christians. This, I believe, is where the Rapture will separate true born-again Christians, the fruitful ears from those who call themselves Christians but who are described by Paul as “clouds without rain.” And “the righteous will shine like the sun….”

Fourth verse:

Even so, LORD, quickly come to thy final harvest-home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin.
There, forever purified, in Thy presence to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels, come – raise the glorious harvest-home.

Scripture Verses: Revelation 22:20, Matthew 24:31, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Rev. 22:20 — “He Who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, LORD Jesus!”

Matthew 24:31 — “And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

1 Thess. 4:16-16 — “For the LORD Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them to the clouds, to meet the LORD in the air. And so we will be with the LORD forever.”

The fourth verse of the song begins with these words: Even so, LORD, quickly come to Thy final harvest-home.

Throughout the New Testament, the LORD proclaims He will come quickly. Yet it has been almost two thousand years since Jesus rose from the earth to be with His Father in heaven.

The Greek word tachos, from which we get our English word tachometer, can be translated as either quickly or soon. We know that when Jesus comes in the air to Rapture His church, it will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52).

The Matthew verse has often been interpreted to be pointing to the event of the Second Coming, and the verses immediately preceding this one, I believe, do point to that. But notice the wording, “to collect His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Remember, at the very end of the age, the Second Coming, Christ’s ‘elect,’ His true church, will already have been in heaven for at least seven years.

This view is supported by the last verse of the hymn, where the author Henry Alford writes: “Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin.” The Rapture saints have been purified and made ready to live in heaven with Jesus forever. Other saints will come out of the tribulation, and will come back with the Rapture saints at the end of the age to rule with Christ in the Thousand-Year Kingdom. They will be gathered from one of the heavens to the other to come with Christ back to the earth, at the end of the age (Rev.19:11-14).

Please take notice of two things: 1) the lyric: All is SAFELY gathered in, ere (or before) the winter storms begin.

Alford obviously believes in a pre-tribulation Rapture, for in it, Christ gathers the good grain (the elect) BEFORE the great storm of the tribulation begins. The second thing to watch for is 2) the spelling of harvest-home, with a hyphen between the two words, making it indeed into a single word.

Looking it up, I found the hyphenated word means this: INGATHERING!

Paul says the LORD will descend into earth’s atmosphere and gather us together, “…will be caught up together….”

This fact ought to dispel any doubt that this hymn, seemingly about the autumn harvest, is actually about the great event to happen soon, the Rapture.

Saints, please don’t get weary of waiting for the Rapture. We are almost there. And remember Paul’s words in Thessalonians 4:18 — “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” These verses are not meant to cause alarm or fear but COMFORT!

We who farm know what a comfort it is to have our crops gathered from the field and stored safely in the bin. Our Father in heaven is also looking forward to the day when His Harvest-Home is completed, and we are all safely in the Kingdom forevermore, to be with Him forever and ever.

Let us pray:

Father God, we thank you for the parables Jesus spoke to us about homely things such as harvests, in-gatherings, wheat and tares, sheep and goats. These are subjects we can relate to and understand, especially we who live in rural communities. At this time of harvest and celebration, LORD, we thank You also for Your great provision for all Your children. And we look forward to thanking You in Person one day in heaven for the amazing Plan of Salvation You had for us sinners – sending Your One and Only Son to redeem us from our sin. Saying thank You seems so little, but You know, dear Father, it comes from the bottom of our hearts. We love You.

Thank You for loving us so much.

In Jesus we pray. Amen.

If anyone reading this devotional has not yet received Jesus as their Saviour, but God has touched your heart by His Holy Word, please email me ( or find a Bible-believing local church and ask the Pastor what you must do to be saved in Grace. In the meantime, please consider the ABCs of Salvation:

A – Admit

Admit what you have done wrong and ask forgiveness.

Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

B – Believe

Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again as payment for your sins.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

C – Confess and Choose

Confess and choose to allow God to be in charge of your life.

Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

MARANATHA, Come soon, LORD Jesus. Come!