The Often Overlooked Language of Thanksgiving

English writer, Arnold Bennett once described music as “a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate.”

I’m no expert on music, but I do know that it is one of the ways I connect with God.  He often speaks to me through music.  He uses music to touch my heart.

Music is the language of my soul.

Recently I came across this quote by Henry Van Dyke, “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”

According to Van Dyke, gratitude is the feeling or emotion.  Thankfulness is the impulse or desire.  Thanksgiving is the expression or act.

As I considered the meaning of this quote in light of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, it dawned on me that the expression of our feelings of gratitude can be made in various languages, including the language of music.

Languages of Thanksgiving

We can express our gratitude through the language of READING.  We can READ Scripture on “thanks,” READ through a Scripture Reading Challenge on the topic, READ Christian authors, or read biographies of Christian missionaries or martyrs.

Our thanks can be offered through the language of WRITING.  Thanksgiving Scripture Writing Challenges abound.  (One can easily be found via a quick Pinterest or Google search.)  You can grab a pad and pen and list the things for which you are grateful or write a letter of thanks to God.

JOURNALING is a language of thanks.  To speak this language as you observe Thanksgiving, choose a beautiful journal or a composition book for recording your expressions of gratitude.  Journal your reflections as you read through “Thankful” Scriptures.  Write out your Scripture Writing Plan in a journal adding your thoughts each day.  List gifts writing out a certain number each day.

Saturate your mind with THOUGHTS of thankfulness.  Choose Scriptures of “thanks” to write out on post-its or 3×5 cards.  Then place them in key places around your home where you will see them often.  Decorate your home with Thanksgiving Scriptures.  (Scripture verse printables and art prints can be found on Pinterest, Etsy, and other sites.)  Go one step more and choose some “Thankful” Scriptures to memorize.

PRAY.  Express your gratitude through the language of PRAYER.  Offer prayers where you simply give thanks, asking for nothing.  PRAY about what you are learning from the Scriptures in your Writing Plan.  PRAY through your list of gifts.  Pray a breathe PRAYER such as, “Thank you/Jesus,” throughout your day.

And what better what to express our inward feeling of gratitude than through the language of the soul, MUSIC.  Did you know?  The Bible has some great verses that highlight the worship of God through song.

“Singing Our Thanks” Scriptures

Psalm 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 47:1 – Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Psalm 68:4 – Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!

Psalm 69:30 – I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 95:1-6 – Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.  The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Psalm 98:1a – Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!

Psalm 147:1 – Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

Ephesians 5:19 – addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

If the language of MUSIC isn’t your “first language” or if you are simply in need of a fresh breath for your “Thanks” offerings, I’ve included a list of Christian Thanksgiving Songs to start you on your way.  This, of course, is just a sampling.  There are many Thanksgiving songs out there.  Pick and choose from this list.  Add some of your own.  And if you just don’t have time to review songs and create your own list, feel free to access my YouTube THANKSGIVING Playlist

Christian Thanksgiving Songs

New Doxology – Gateway Church
Wonderful, Merciful Savior – Selah
10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman
Worthy is the Lamb – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Praise to the Lord the Almighty – Travis Cottrell
Life of Praise – Casting Crowns
Indescribable – Chris Tomlin
You Are Good – Lakewood Church
Your Great Name – Natalie Grant
Made Me Glad – Michael Neale
Forever – Chris Tomlin
Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King – Gateway Worship
You Are Good – Gateway Church
How Great Thou Art – Carrie Underwood
Give Thanks – Don Moen
Thank You – Hillsong United
Blessed Be Your Name – Matt Redman
Enough – Chris Tomlin
Thank You God for Saving Me – Chris Tomlin
Thank you Lord – Don Moen
It Is Well with My Soul – Bill & Gloria Gaither (ft. Guy Penrod, David Phelps)
Cannot Say Enough – MercyMe
Doxology – David Crowder Band

Create your playlist on your preferred channel or app (iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, etc.).  Then play it often throughout the month of November as you prepare your heart for Thanksgiving Day.  Play it as you engage with God during your personal quiet times, cook or clean to your songs of “Thanks,” use your playlist as background music as your holiday dinner guests arrive or during your Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving is the precursor to joy.
–Kathy Keller
 Speak all the languages of Thanksgiving, including “the language of the soul.”

Featured image quote from  Music, Language of the Soul by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.