This was written for the 9am service at Tilehurst Methodist Church on September 20th 2009. The readings were Exodus 19:10-25 and Matthew 8:23-34 and the theme was "our powerful God" - the point being that although the New Testament is "friendlier" than the Old, we mustn't try to "shrink" God to fit our preferences.
This Sunday was also the day of our Harvest Festival, although the main harvest service was the 10.30am one. It was suggested that some reference to harvest would be welcome at the 9am service anyway, so I decided to change the final hymn from the originally planned one (O Jesus I have promised) to a harvesty one. Unfortunately, none of the harvest hymns really suited my theme - other than possibly "We plough the fields and scatter." However, that would have seemed like a hackneyed, token effort - so as the organist had suggested that "Come, ye thankful people, come" is a nice rousing hymn, I'd take the tune and the initial two lines and make the rest of the words fit in with the service.
The irony is that the original hymn isn't really a harvest hymn at all, after the first verse: it's all about the second coming. My own version doesn't dwell too much on the traditional harvest of food, but does try to stick with creation and the harvest of labours in general. It seemed to go down quite well, and the final verse was certainly sung with a pleasing amount of gusto.
1. Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest-home!
God's provision yields once more
Rich supplies for human store.
But beyond our daily bread,
On the path to heaven led;
Christ was giv'n to make us whole:
God's own harvest of our souls.
2. We depend on others' toil;
Those who tend and till the soil.
But our labour may yet be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
May the fruits of all we do,
Give more glory unto you;
With your Spirit by our side,
Let our praise be amplified.
3. All around we see your hand,
Mountains raised at your command.
Life abounds at every turn,
Beast and plant, from whale to fern.
Star and atom, birth and death;
Dawn of time 'til final breath.
Angels sing in heav'n above,
"God is perfect, God is love!"
4. God: omnipotent and vast;
God, the first and God the last.
Far beyond our earthly mind,
Yet still cares for humankind.
Known through Christ; through Christ adored,
King, creator, friend and Lord.
Come, ye thankful people, come;
Praise your God who calls you home!
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