The Inspiring Story Behind the Hymn “We Gather Together”

Written by on May 5, 2024

One of the most famous hymns of thanksgiving, “We Gather Together” can trace its origins back to 16th century Netherlands. Composed as a Thanksgiving Day hymn, the lyrics were written in Dutch in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius. However, it was not set to music until 1626, when the melody was composed by Dutch composer Cornelis Bouman.

Meaning and Message

Even when translated to English, the hymn retains its overall message of gratitude. The opening line “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing” establishes the purpose of coming together – to offer thanks and ask for God’s protection. Throughout, it stresses the central themes of giving thanks for blessings received and asking for continued guidance and provision.

Growing Popularity

The hymn first gained wider popularity in the United States during the 1930s. “We Gather Together” was adopted as the unofficial Thanksgiving hymn by many Christian denominations due to its original connection to the holiday. Its cheerful yet solemn melody also lent itself well to congregational singing. By the 1940s, it had become a common inclusion in hymnals and worship services during the Thanksgiving season.

Legacy and Meaning Today

“We Gather Together” remains one of the most sung hymns, especially around Thanksgiving. Its message of community, thanksgiving, and requesting God’s blessing has resonated with believers for over 400 years. While the 1626 melody is simpler than many modern worship songs, its power lies in its ability to bring diverse congregations together in a united act of gratitude. Even after centuries, the hymn continues to fulfil its original purpose – gathering God’s people to offer thanks for all they have been given.

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