In 1844 Henry Alford, the rector of Aston Standford church in Buckinghamshire, England composed a 7 stanza poem titled “After Harvest”. About ten years later the poem was shortened to 4 verses, set to music by George J. Elvey and published as the hymn “Come Ye Thankful People, Come”. This hymn of harvest time and Thanksgiving is included in the Latter-day Saint Hymnbook but only with the first 2 verses. In the early 2000’s the hymn was given new life with a glorious arrangement by Mack Wilberg, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, to include organ, the full Orchestra at Temple Square and the full Bell Choir!
Brother Wilberg restored the original four verses, with excitement and anticipation building through the use of adding more instruments and modulating the key each verse. The first verse is a celebration of the people’s harvest being gathered in “ere the winter storms begin”. The people gather themselves to God’s temple to “raise the song of harvest home”. The second verse reminds us that “all the world” is God’s garden and all that we have comes from Him. The third verse talks about God’s great spiritual harvest which will happen when “the Lord shall come again”. At that day, the ‘tares’ (wicked) will be thrown into the fire, and the ‘wheat’ (righteous) will be stored safely. The fourth verse is my favorite. The people now make a heavenly plea to the Lord to “quickly come!” – we beg for that glorious day when we can all be “gathered in” and “free from sorrow, free from sin” to be able to abide in His presence again and be part of the “Glorious Harvest” taken back Home!
Nothing says Thanksgiving better to me than this beautiful “Harvest hymn” which speaks of our earthly harvest as a symbol of the Heavenly Harvest to come. There can also be no more stunning arrangement than by Mack Wilberg. Enjoy! – MoSop
COME YE THANKFUL PEOPLE – LYRICS
Text: Henry Alford (1810-1871), Music: George J. Elvey (1816-1893)
Arrangement by: Mack Wilberg (b. 1955) for Choir, Orchestra & Bells
And shall take the harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offences purge away,
Giving angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In the garner evermore.
To Thy final harvest home.
Gather now Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin.
There forever purified,
In thy presense we’ll abide
Come with all thy angels come,
Raise the glorious harvest home!