Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Hymns - A Gilmore Girls Inspired Vocabulary Lesson

I was watching an episode of Gilmore Girls (now streaming on Netflix) when I came across a gem of a scene (warning for those of you who might watch it with little ears nearby - "hell" is used as a swear word in the clip) that totally inspired a pre-Thanksgiving, vocabulary study for this week.

In the clip above, a couple of non-Christian, and apparently non-church going band members are trying to work through some of the more difficult or archaic wording of a hymn they will be performing at a "gig".  The show's writers picked a doozy of a hymn with "A Mighty Fortress is Our God".  Not all hymns are as difficult to translate into the modern vernacular.

However, it made me realize how much SAT type vocabulary I had picked up on the Sunday mornings of my childhood, paraphrasing verses out of the King James during Sunday school, and then singing hymns during the service.  Today's unchurched, or chorus singing congregations are missing out on a whole wealth of language learning, along with some beautiful opportunities to harmonize (check out the YouTube clip for "I Sing Th'Almighty Power of God" below).

I've been looking for ways to keep the children focused in on Thanksgiving, this week, and to keep us from skipping over it altogether, in a rush of Christmas planning - so a little hymn study was just what we needed.

I pulled out our old Baptize Hymnal, turned to the topical index (another good academic exercise for children) and located the six Thanksgiving themed hymns, that I pulled together for a vocabulary study below.  This week, I hope to have the children:
  • read through each hymn, clicking on the underlined words, and then choosing the appropriate definition to fit the context (highlighting the living and evolving nature of the English language)
  • listen to each hymn by clicking on the YouTube links (promoting good pronunciation)
  • get to know the words through exercises on, with lists I created there (spelling and vocabulary building)
  • and hopefully paraphrase one or more of the hymns in modern English (like in the clip above), or write an additional verse in the style of the original author, to perform for us on Thanksgiving Day (free holiday entertainment)

We Gather Together 
 Listen to the song on Youtube
Author: Unknown Translator: Theodore Baker Tune: Kremser
Quizlet study words

1 We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
he chastens and hastens his will to make known;
the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own.

2 Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
so from the beginning the fight we were winning;
thou, Lord, wast at our side; all glory be thine!

3 We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
and pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
 Listen to the song on YouTube.
Author: Henry Alford Tune: St. George's Windsor
 Quizlet Study Words

1 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.

2 All the world is God's own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to 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.

3 For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the 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 the garner evermore.

4 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 presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

O Lord of Heaven and Earth and Sea
 Listen to the song on Youtube.
Author: Christopher Wordsworth  Tune: Almsgiving
Quizlet Study Words

1. O Lord of Heav’n and earth and sea,
To Thee all praise and glory be;
How shall we show our love to Thee,
Who givest all?

2. The golden sunshine, vernal air,
Sweet flowers and fruits, Thy love declare;
Where harvests ripen, Thou art there,
Who givest all.

3. For peaceful homes and healthful days,
For all the blessings earth displays,
We owe Thee thankfulness and praise,
Who givest all.

4. Thou didst not spare Thine only Son,
But gav’st Him for a world undone,
And freely, with that blessèd One,
Thou givest all.

5. Thou giv’st the Spirit’s blessèd dower,
Spirit of life and love and power,
And dost His sevenfold graces shower
Upon us all.

6. For souls redeemed, for sins forgiv’n,
For means of grace and hopes of Heav’n,
Father, all praise to Thee be giv’n,
Who givest all.

7. We lose what on ourselves we spend,
We have as treasure without end
Whatever, Lord, to Thee we lend,
Who givest all.

8. Whatever, Lord, we lend to Thee,
Repaid a thousand-fold will be;
Then gladly will we give to Thee
Who givest all.

9. To Thee, from whom we all derive
Our life, our gifts, our power to give:
O may we ever with Thee live,
Who givest all.

I Sing Th'Almighty Power of God
Listen to the song on Youtube.
Author:  Isaac Watts
Quizlet Study Words

1 We sing the mighty power of God
that made the mountains rise,
that spread the flowing seas abroad
and built the lofty skies.
We sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at his command,
and all the stars obey.

2 We sing the goodness of the Lord
that filled the earth with food;
he formed the creatures with his word
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how your wonders are displayed,
where'er we turn our eyes,
if we survey the ground we tread
or gaze upon the skies.

3 There's not a plant or flower below
but makes your glories known,
and clouds arise and tempests blow
by order from your throne;
while all that borrows life from you
is ever in your care,
and everywhere that we can be,
you, God, are present there.

Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One
Listen to the song on Youtube.
Author:  Johnson Oatman  Tune: Blessings
Quizlet Study Words

1 When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

2 Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. [Refrain]

3 When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. [Refrain]

4 So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end. [Refrain]

For the Beauty of the Earth
Listen to the song on Youtube.
Author: Folliott Sanford Pierpoint  Tune: DIX
Quizlet Study Words

1 For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies.

Christ, our Lord, to you we raise
this, our hymn of grateful praise.

2 For the wonder of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light, [Refrain ]

3 For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild, [Refrain]

4 For yourself, best gift divine,
to the world so freely given,
agent of God's grand design:
peace on earth and joy in heaven. [Refrain]

What's your favorite Thanksgiving hymn?


Ticia said...

This is why you're so awesome. This is a great Thanksgiving unit I hadn't even thought of trying.

Sheltie Times said...

I've always been impressed by how much more I remember in song than what I try to just memorize. I've sung psalms for years that I can recite if singing. Ask me to speak them without music and I have a much harder time recalling the words.

I was amazed at how much language in context I did learn in Church as there wasn't often a great deal of explaining of the language, it was just assumed that over time you'd absorb it and suprisingly I did.

Cristy said...

I love this idea! My favorite Thanksgiving hymn is Count Your Many Blessings. We sing through all 4 verses from November 1 to 30 every year as a family. It's our Thanksgiving tradition.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Christy - Great tradition!

OurWanderingAdventures said...

An excellent idea, thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

What a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

MaryAnne said...

What a great learning unit!

claireshomeeducation said...

Vocab is a great thing to add to hymn study - I would never have thought of that!