PBEH Discussion: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,364
    Another old essay.

    The other day at daily Mass we heard a delightful little reading from the Gospel of Mark, including 4:26-29. Mark is by far the shortest Gospel. Yet there are a few little passages in it that can be found nowhere else, and this is one of them.

    And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

    This small parable, which emphasizes the works that God performs in the hidden depths of the soul, is put to justly famous use in the second verse of Henry Alford's majestic hymn, Come Ye Thankful People, Come:

    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.

    Alford's tremendous achievement--besides the musical (i.e. euphonic) and rhetorical excellence of the hymn--is the culling of many different images related to the harvest and putting them together well. This is difficult to do. Each text must be accurately represented: its meaning must be the same as it was in its original context. Then it must be accurately related to the other texts, whose original contexts were very different. It is in this way especially that Alford's hymn is theologically--hermeneutically--excellent.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    It's a great misfortune that this hymn winds up under "thanksgiving" when it's actually an end-times hymn.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,364
    Well, okay. I think most people usually reserve expressions like "great misfortune" for natural disasters...

    I agree, this would be better under the heading of end times, or The Last Things, or something like that.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    Well, it's the right time of year for an end-times hymn anyway.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I have use this hymn for other than Thanksgiving. One of my favorites. Esp at this season of 'End time' readings

    Donna
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,575
    chonak... we suspect you mean Ordinary Time?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    Hm? I meant: in the US, it's sung in November, before Thanksgiving Day. Since the gospel texts in the last weeks deal with end-times themes, it's appropriate. I don't know what Canadians do with the hymn; their Thanksgiving Day is in October.
  • This brings to mind something rather important with regard to PBEH. The trend in hymnals that is gaining currency is to simply place them alphabetically. Then in an appendix, a seasonal and sanctoral apparatus can be given to help the musician as well as the pastor of a parish. It is thought to increase the use of a text across the Church Year so that the people do not feel they are singing something "wrong" during a particular time of year. It is an interesting pastoral concern worth considering by those who create and compile new hymnals.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,575
    Seasonal is a good index, but the hymn should appear as often as possible in each category. Subject Index would be next, but I also think Cantica Nova does a good job listing all possibilities for each Sunday.
  • I have to say, I do not like the hymns placed alphabetically. I much prefer them by seasons. Additional indices can be added.

    Donna
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    I have to say, I do not like the hymns placed alphabetically.


    Ah, but it generally keeps one from running out of "3"s in assmbling the hymn board at Christmastide...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • My personal preference for dividing the hymns according to the seasonal and sanctoral cycles arises from my belief that the 'seeing' of this structure is a very sound way to instruct the faithful. Those who are new to the Holy Faith can look through such a hymnal and absorb the shape of the liturgical year as well as the sanctoral cycle. I am willing to entertain both ideas, but I think putting such an apparatus into the book has such simple and positive benefits. Of course, it is the traditional Anglican way of gathering together a hymnal, and I have been shaped that way by many moons and many seasons: it strikes me as the most Catholic in terms of continuity (in terms of pedagogy, etc.). But this new way may add to ease of use. And a clearly designed apparatus at the back -- bearing all of this in mind -- could likewise communicate the information with regard to the liturgical year.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    In the UK it's sung in September, as part of the thanksgiving for the end of harvest. Anglicans and non-conformists traditionally have a 'harvest festival' service. I'm not sure I've ever sung it as a Catholic, but I do try to avoid Mass with hymns.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Oops - that was a faux pas in a thread about a hymn book! I should hasten to add that I try to avoid Mass with hymns because of those that are often sung, and their use as Proper-substitutes. I have no problem with the content of this collection that I have seen so far.
  • Gavin- Very funny And that has actually happened to me. At almost the last minute too, leading to the use of carboard and magic marker. LOL

    Donna
  • Maureen
    Posts: 670
    Re: liking the hymnal to be arranged by liturgical season, partly for didactic reasons

    One of the old hymnals online was actually arranged according to a catechism! No foolin'. There'd be a statement like: "The Eucharist is...." and then a hymn illustrating the point. They had about 50 points about Mary. :)

    It was a lyrics-only hymnal, though.