In Thanksgiving We Gather Together

As Charlie Brown says, “It seems Thanksgiving is upon us.”

This November we’ve had the release of The Peanuts Movie. While it commemorates the 65th anniversary of the comic strip and 50th anniversary of the TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, it is this time of year that we turn to the perennial favorite, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It’s the tenth prime-time animated TV special based on Charles M. Schulz’ popular comic strip Peanuts and originally aired on the CBS network on November 20, 1973. Take note, it airs this evening (Tuesday, Nov 24th) at 8:00 pm ET on ABC!

The music of Vince Guaraldi is very much associated with the Charlie Brown television specials; and the Thanksgiving holiday is paired with food, especially turkey (why else would Sally question the expectation of Turkey Cards?), charity, football, turkey trots, the Macy’s Day parade, and the anticipation of Black Friday. While the nature of some of these is … well … evolving, it seems Thanksgiving is not a holiday that is associated with an encompassing soundtrack as some other are. (The why is an area for further exploration).

Yes, we have a few iconic works to point to such as Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant, which is based on a Thanksgiving Day true-life incident, and Guaraldi’s Thanksgiving Theme, but the repertoire outside of the Christian hymnal is not that big. This is one of my favorite holidays, and in my humble opinion, it would be wonderful to expand the Holiday’s repertoire. Composers take note … a bit of a challenge here.

Meanwhile … brief background as Linus aroused some curiosity. Thanksgiving is the first declared national holiday about giving thanks. While there had been various proclamations for Thanksgiving observances throughout our early nationhood, the annual tradition began in 1863. After some serious solicitation from Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Ladies Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, President Abraham Lincoln was spurred on by the Union victory at Gettysburg and proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be observed every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

So, in the words of Charlie Brown, it seems Thanksgiving is upon us. And as I turn to my own musical collection and that which is at my fingertips via my digital devices in search of Thanksgiving holiday music and an anthem, I return to the hymnal with the stalwart We Gather Together. ***


Henry Hudson’s ship, the Halve Maen

An interesting read by Melanie Kirkpatrick about this Thanksgiving hymn can be found in her Wall Street Journal article (2005), “A Hymn’s Long Journey Home.” For those of us who call the shores of the Hudson River home, especially here in New York’s Capital Region, the hymn is perhaps particularly captivating as the Dutch settlers brought this 17th-century Dutch song and simple folk melody with them to the New World.

While giving thanks, Hudson Sounds extends warm hopes and safe travel wishes for all gathering together to share the bonds of family and joy of friendship. We are blessed to share our nationhood, freedoms, and the fortitude to survive our very turbulent times. Happy Thanksgiving!


*** It is without a doubt I have missed existing compositions that are representative of this American holiday, yet long recognized universal theme. Please share your favorites via twitter @HudsonSounds, by e-mail, or by posting your comments here.


NOTE:  This was originally posted November 26th 2013. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we share again. Enjoy and safe travels for those hitting the road and skies.

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