Hymns for Him: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

This week, because tomorrow is (American) Thanksgiving, we’ll be diving into a hymn with more of a thankful theme. We’ll be studying Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart (LSB 806). Let’s go!

The Hymn

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.
And now let the weak say “I am strong,”
Let the poor say “I am rich,”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
And now let the weak say “I am strong,”
Let the poor say “I am rich,”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give thanks, give thanks.

The Scripture

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

The History

As you may have noticed, this hymn is a little different than the ones I’ve typically been featuring. It’s shorter, and if you listen to the videos (or already know it), you might notice that the tune is a little more modern than most hymns.

That’s because the hymn itself is a little more modern than most hymns! While most of the hymns featured in this post series are from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, this one is from the 20th. Both the text and the tune were written in 1952 by a man named Henry Smith.

I found this beautiful paragraph on a blog called Song Scoops:

Henry Smith must have seen life this way: God’s side of the equation outweighs whatever is on the opposite side. At least, that’s what the words he wrote indicate. God is the ‘all’ of existence, so that I am called to ‘give thanks’ six times in the song’s opening words. When I’m done here on planet Earth, all that will matter is what lies ahead – in God’s presence. That must have been alluring for Henry Smith, who was struggling to find steady work, despite having just earned his college degree. When he says ‘the poor’ are rich in “Give Thanks”, that’s an echo from his difficulty in finding work. His eyesight was also failing because of a degenerative condition that would eventually leave him legally blind, certainly a ‘weakness’ that he expressed in the song as his eyesight faded. Thankfully, theological training informed him that God’s side of the equals sign was what mattered. And other parts of his life further motivated the song that leapt from his heart. He’d found someone to love, his future wife. And, he was grateful to be through school, which his deteriorating vision had made difficult, and to be back home in a church he loved in Williamsburg, Virginia. If God was all Henry Smith had in 1978, He could be praised, and yet He provided even more. It’s no surprise that Smith’s heart overflowed in a song. And, the song resounds still in Henry Smith’s hometown and around the globe today.

Song Scoops

This hymn reminds you to give thanks in every circumstance for the fact that God sent His one and only Son, Jesus, for our sins. Even when your surroundings are terrible, and you feel like life is crashing in on you, you are saved. Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and even if you can’t find thankfulness, even if you have nothing else in the world for which to be thankful, that is why you should be.

The last part of this hymn reminds me a little bit of the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus says “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). This hymn does a neat flip-flop, if you will, a reversal of roles, in the same way Jesus taught. The underdogs will win eventually.

This is one of my favourite hymns for the simplicity, the beauty, the grace of just humbly giving thanks to a Creator who loves you. Remember that in this season of life and always.

That’s all for now! If you’re American, what are your plans for Thanksgiving? What are some things you’re thankful for? I’m thankful for rainy days and stuffed penguins and potatoes.

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Until next time,

4 thoughts on “Hymns for Him: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

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