What Music Is On Your Thanksgiving Playlist?

In researching Thanksgiving music, I came across Billboard’s “Top 15 Songs About Being Thankful & Grateful”. As you may know, Billboard Charts is a service that lists and ranks popular music based on weekly sales and radio airplay and streaming.

To be honest, I did not know most of songs on Billboard’s Thanksgiving/Grateful list. Apparently, I am old and out of touch with current popular music trends. I did find Kat Bein’s introduction to the seasonal ranking surprisingly meaningful and thoughtful.

Every year at the end of November, Americans gather around tables short and long with family and friends to enjoy a meal with those for which they are most thankful. We take note of our blessings and privileges, and make more happy memories to be grateful for in the future.

Of course, that spirit of thankfulness shouldn’t come only once a year. We should always take stock of all we have to appreciate every morning and every night, and if you need some musical motivation to get you in the grateful mood, we suggest one of these 10 delightful thank you songs about being grateful.

Billboard’s ranking made me think about the popularity of sacred congregational songs, or hymns, related to thanksgiving and gratefulness. I did not find a popularity ranking of thanksgiving related hymns, but I was able to create the chart below using the keywords “thanksgiving,” “thankfulness,” and “thank you.” This keyword graph was created using the information in the Hymnary.org database and shows the number of instances these words and phrase occurring in hymns from 1800 to 2018.

In looking at this graph, it is interesting to see a rise in the number of occurrences of these words in published hymns around the turn of the century, 1890 to 1920,with another sharp and significant rise in their occurrence beginning in the 1970s and peaking in the 1990’s. This is a very casual study, however, it would be interesting to look deeper at the data for possible social, economic, musical, and liturgical factors influencing these rises.

All this ranking led me to wonder what my Thanksgiving music playlist would be. After some thought and consideration, I giveyou my Thanksgiving playlist below. I have included a link to a performance of each selection. Sadly, I could not find any performance of the hymn, “Thanksgiving / Thanks-living” by Terry York and Dennis Allen published in the 1991 edition of the Baptist Hymnal.This Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to take Kat Bein’s words to heart and, “take stock of all we [you] have to appreciate every morning and every night.”

For the Beauty of the Earth – words by FolliottSandfordPierpoint; music by John Rutter

Thanksgiving/Thanks-living – words by Terry York; music by Dennis Allen

Because I Have Been Given Much – words by Grace Noll Crowell: music by Phillip Landgrave

Now Thank We All Our God – Translated by Catherine Winkworth, music by Martin Rinkart, arranged by John Rutter

All Good Gifts– words and music by Stephen Schwartz

All Creatures of Our God and King– words St. Francis of Assisi, arranged by Molly Ijames

God Is Seen – from The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion by William Walker, arranged by Alice Parker

Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal –words by F.R Warren, hymn tune INVITATION, arranged by Alice Parker

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing – words by Robert Robinson, tune NETTLETON (composer unknown), arranged by Joe Cox

The Heavens are Telling from The Creation – by Franz J. Haydn

Simple Gifts from Appalachian Spring – Shaker hymn set by Aaron Copland

The Promise of Living from The Tender Land – by Aaron Copland

I’m a Lucky Man – words and music by Paul Thorn and Connor Reeves

Thanksgiving Theme – by Vince Guaraldi