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Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

When my husband and I were beginning our adventures together, I was offered my first job as a worship leader/music director for our community chapel on the Army base where we lived. I was so excited to get to serve in this capacity! I had a great deal of ideas and thoughts about the music for our new church and was overjoyed to work with our chaplain, learn, and serve together. This chapel had a service that was, at the time, what we called a “blended” service. A combination of traditional hymns and choruses with a few contemporary worship songs throughout each Sunday morning’s service order. It was a learning experience for me, as in my young adult years I had grown up in mostly contemporary worship environments not singing or leading many hymns. I had studied to be a music director and had learned many of them, however, I didn’t have much of a connection to them as those who attended our services did.

During our planning times together my Chaplain and I would have many enriching conversations about the beauty and value of hymns, what I had learned in school, but was struggling to put into practice, and the theologically rich foundations the hymns partnered with worship songs gave to our church family. It very quickly became a beautiful time of remembering God’s faithfulness and goodness for all of us.

A more specific, meaningful memory for me was when our chaplain wanted to bring a tradition of singing the song “Give thanks with a grateful heart” to the end of every church service. At first, I thought “Really? It’s not even a hymn, and it is such a boring old chorus - I wish we could do something different each week.” I decided not to say anything, being new to the job, I didn’t want to appear rude or disrespectful. Instead, after discussing it with my husband, I prayed for the Lord to reveal to me how it would stay fresh and new in my heart and mind each week as I led the congregation in singing it.

The Lord sure was faithful, it very quickly became one of my favorite moments in our time worshiping together. It gave such joy to my heart as EVERYONE in the congregation sang with boldness, strength, and fervor to the Lord. Their hearts were wide open with gratitude. It was powerful - every time. I was often so overwhelmed by the felt presence of the Lord that I would back away from the microphone, and quietly sing along with everyone, listening to every word and every note. It truly was a Joyful noise unto the Lord as it is mentioned several times in the book of Psalms.

Here are the lyrics to the song “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”:

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One; give thanks, because he’s given Jesus Christ, his Son. Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One; give thanks, because he’s given Jesus Christ, his Son.

And now let the weak say ‘I am strong’, let the poor say ‘I am rich’, because of what the Lord has done for us; and now let the weak say ‘I am strong’, let the poor say ‘I am rich’, because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks…

Take some time today to ponder specific things the Lord has done in your life, and “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”

Join me in making every effort to remember and celebrate what He has done for us every day. Even in the small things…

P.S. If you like a good song/songwriter story, I later learned this tidbit about the song and the man, Henry Smith, who wrote the song. I thought I would share it with you:

"Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart" was written in 1978 by Henry Smith. The song was his only published worship song out of 300 unpublished compositions. It was written after Smith had trouble finding work after graduating from university. He also suffered from a degenerative condition that eventually left him legally blind. While at his church in Williamsburg, Virginia, his pastor inspired him with a reference to how Jesus made himself poor to make others rich through him. When Smith started performing the song in church, a visiting United States Military officer took the song to Europe, where its popularity spread. In 1986, Integrity Music published the song on their Hosanna! Music audio cassette but credited it as "author unknown".

Later that year, Don Moen released the song on his Give Thanks album. Smith contacted Integrity to inform them of his authorship, and they said that they had been attempting to track him down. As a result, Smith signed a writer-publisher agreement with Integrity for distribution rights to the song.

The lyrics have been erroneously credited to Moen rather than Smith in some media reports. In the United States, the song was used by a Catholic news website to focus on returning a Christian focus to Thanksgiving celebrations. The song has also been cited by Christian authors to be used for thanksgiving and giving thanks to God.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

Song Story collected from numerous sources and published on Wikipedia here: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart Story

Erin Nonaka is the Director of Communications and Community and a Co-founder at Humble Faith Ministries. She is an experienced worship leader, Bible teacher, and leadership trainer. Her heart yearns for women to be equipped and walk boldly for Jesus in every season of life. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and two of her three sons.

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