Give thanks to God, all the earth: a litany for Thanksgiving

We developed and have used or adapted this litany for several Thanksgiving services. The structure is simple—the leader gives thanks for very specific things, and the people affirm their thanks for those items with a more general phrase. We encourage the use of several different leaders on the different sections of the litany.

A guitar or piano could continue playing during the spoken parts of the prayer. Keep the rhythm and tempo going by quietly playing a C2 chord, perhaps going every seventh and eighth beats back to the G or G7 chord. Then, as the people finish the last words in the spoken section, climb from C2 to F, giving a musical cue to begin the refrain again.

Litany of Thanksgiving

Refrain —Give Thanks to God All the Earth
Click to listen  [ melody ]

Let us give thanks to God for ballot boxes, newspaper editorials, and open borders.

For all the freedoms we enjoy.

Let us give thanks for diplomats, treaties, and compromise.

For peace in a world of war.

For police officers, streetlights, and concerned neighbors.

For safety from fear and harm.

Refrain

Let us give thanks to God for St. Paul and Priscilla, St. Francis and St. Claire, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, and Mother Theresa.

For all the Christians who ran the race before us.

Let us give thanks to God for the Scriptures, for creeds and confessions, for the songs and hymns of God’s people.

For all good things in our heritage of faith.

Let us give thanks to God for a good creation, a redeeming Son, and a transforming Spirit.

For all the benefits of our salvation.

Refrain

Let us give thanks to God for purple and orange sunsets, bright red flowers, great gray elephants, and the vast blackness of space.

For all the wonders, God, of your creative mind.

Let us give thanks to God for Mozart, Michelangelo, and Milton, for pianos, paint brushes, and pencils.

For all the wonders of our creative minds, made in your image, O Lord.

Refrain

Let us give thanks to God for Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

For the abundance of food that sustains our bodies.

Let us give thanks to God for soft beds, warm fires, familiar chairs, and open windows.

For the abundant comfort of our homes.

Let us give thanks to God for cars that run, brand-new sneakers, and long, hot showers.

For God’s goodness that flows above and beyond our needs.

Refrain

Let us give thanks to God for aggressive immune systems, for running cross-country, and for sound sleep,

For the strength and health of our bodies.

Let us give thanks to God for crossword puzzles, learning foreign languages, and plane geometry.

For healthy, strong minds.

Refrain

Let us give thanks to God for pesky little brothers, wise grandmothers, favorite uncles, loving parents, and fresh fiancées.

For the families that shaped our lives.

Let us give thanks to God for surprise phone calls, funny birthday gifts, and long talks late at night.

For friends who stick with us as the years go by.

Let us give thanks to God for men and women with dark skin and light skin, freckles and curls, pug noses and beards, graceful limbs and ample laps.

For all the beautiful diversity of people, all over the world, who make up the one family of God, bound together in Jesus Christ.

Refrain [sung twice]

 

Debra Rienstra is professor of English at Calvin College

Ron Rienstra is associate professor of preaching and worship arts at Western Theological Seminary and co-author of Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry (Baker Academic, 2009).