Thanksgiving is approaching, and it’s likely that you or your music director and worship team have started planning for Thanksgiving services. If you’re looking for music to add a bright, festive note to your worship, or if you’re looking for pieces to include your choir or handbell teams, look no further. The organ, choral, and handbell selections below work well in a variety of settings, both for in-person worship and for recorded or live-stream online services. For additional inspiration, check out the Thanksgiving Music Playlist!
“Sing to the Lord of Harvest” by Sandra Eithun
Set to the tune WIE LIEBLICH IST DER MAIEN, “Sing to the Lord of Harvest” is full of jubilant praises swelling from the bells, making it an excellent choice for Thanksgiving worship. Interspersed throughout the score are glimpses of Johann Crüger’s tune NUN DANKET ALLE GOTT, accenting the tune’s melody. This Level II arrangement is perfect for 2–3 octaves of handbells and would benefit the congregation as part of the offering or during the distribution of the Lord’s Supper.
“Festival Partita on Now Thank We All Our God” by John Behnke
This three-part organ partita is both grand and festive, which makes it a great addition to any Thanksgiving service. A bright and regal organ fanfare opens the melody in “Prelude.” This part of the tune is straightforward, with chords ringing out to accent the wonderful tune NUN DANKET ALLE GOTT.
The second movement, “Aria,” is slower and more subdued. It is interwoven with pensive undertones, supplied by the tune DONA NOBIS PACEM. This gives your listeners time to settle into the song and ponder what they are thanking God for.
The final movement, “Fugue,” has a wonderfully playful sound as the first and second melodies dance around each other. This playful tone is different from the loud and regal first movement and the softer second movement, creating a bridge between the two. The partita ends with a stunning F-major finale.
“Give Thanks to the Lord” by Kevin Hildebrand
“Give Thanks to the Lord” begins with a beautiful, optional duet between flute, carrying the melody, and clarinet, carrying the countermelody. Psalm 118 lends the choir the hymn text and serves as a meditative refrain for listeners. The optional flute and clarinet play between the stanzas and continue to guide singers through sections of the piece. The calm tones of the piece are perfect for reflecting on the text. Male and female voices work in a back-and-forth conversation throughout Psalm 118, coming together to accent important points of the text. The piece ends with all voice and instruments singing out together.
An antiphon for the congregation is included with this piece along with downloadable materials for C instruments.
“Thanksgiving Mosaics” by Jacob B. Weber
“Thanksgiving Mosaics” includes six settings for Thanksgiving hymns, all scored for organ. Notable tunes include KREMSER, NUN DANKET ALLE GOTT, OLD HUNDREDTH, ST. GEORGE’S, and WINDSOR. One of the included hymns is “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” which has a bouncy opening fanfare set in 3/4 before leading into the familiar melody. Many time changes happen during this song, making it a wonderful challenge for organists and an interesting listen for congregants. Other included hymns are “We Praise You, O God,” “Now Thank We All Our God,” and “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow.” These settings are ideal for the beginning, middle, and end of Thanksgiving services, as well as for services of praise throughout the Church Year.
To listen to these hymns and more, check out the Thanksgiving Hymns playlist below.