The Story Behind Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Alford wrote "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come" in 1844 while he was rector of Aston Sandford in Buckinghamshire, England. It was first published in Hymns and Psalms in 1844 with seven verses under "After Harvest." "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come" was set to George J. Elvey's hymn tune St. George's, Windsor in 1858.
In 1865, Alford altered the hymn, it was republished in his Poetical Works with only four verses. In 1861 there had been several unofficial revisions of the hymn, including one in Hymns Ancient and Modern, which led to Alford publishing a footnote in Poetical Works stating his objection to these revisions that had been made without his consensus. Despite this, Alford revised the hymn again in 1867 in Year of Praise.
Alford was a moderate who tried to keep good relations between non-conformists and the High Church Anglicans in the Church of England: "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come" is commonly found in evangelical hymn books, as is Alford's "Forward be our watchword" and "Ten thousand times ten thousand." The hymn later earned popularity in the United States and is used as part of Thanksgiving celebrations.
Bible Inspiration for This Hymn
Luke 10:2 - And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Galatians 6:9 - And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
John 4:35 - Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
Proverbs 10:5 - He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.
2 Corinthians 9:10 - He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.