Grace, gratify and gratitude arise from the same linguistic root, whether the language is English, Greek, or Latin. The good gift, the deep pleasure, and the heartfelt thankfulness are connected experientially, just as they are linguistically.
Gratitude happens when you take to heart a good gift that brings you great pleasure.
In what follows, I offer you old, seasoned gifts: a hymn, a prayer, and a poem. These are wise words from wise people. Each intends to prime the pump of your thankfulness.
Print them out. Take to your own heart what is written.
Perhaps it is appropriate to print out multiple copies of one of these (or all three) to bring to your Thanksgiving Day table? They bring food for thought. They guide thoughtful prayer. They prime the pump of thoughtful conversation. Each in its own way reflects on how hard it is to be thankful, on the hard things around us and the hard things inside us. And each moves freely between thankfulness and our need for what we don’t yet have.
Here are good gifts, meant to bring you deep pleasure, to make you thankful, to make you long for more.
Come, ye thankful people, come
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.
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.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take his harvest home;
From his field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in his garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home;
Gather thou thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.
—Henry Alford, 1844
The General Thanksgiving
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all men.
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful;
and that we show forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to thy service,
and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer
Thou that hast giv’n so much to me,
Give one thing more, a gratefull heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And sayes, If he in this be crost,
All thou hast giv’n him heretofore
But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
Perpetuall knockings at thy doore,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
This notwithstanding, thou wentst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay, thou hast made a sigh and grone
Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, then grones can make;
But that these countrey-aires thy love
Wherefore I crie, and crie again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankfull heart obtain
Not thankfull, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare dayes:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
—George Herbert, The Temple (1633)