Today I'd like to share with you the hymn Bringing in the Sheaves, by Knowles Shaw, music by George A. Minor.
This hymn has a special place in my heart. A lot of people think of it as a "harvest time" hymn, often sung around Thanksgiving and such. But really, the hymn is much deeper than that, and appropriate all year 'round. It's both about having a joyful demeanor, that you may reap joy in return, and about missionary work. The simple words are accessible on several levels, and that is why it has remained a popular hymn since 1874 when it was written.
I have many memories of this hymn. The repetitive, bouncy, rhythmic chorus and the sheer joy of this hymn made it a favorite around our house, whatever we were doing. I remember singing it while cleaning growing up, especially the "pre-holiday-guests" cleaning before Thanksgiving, but also in the summer. The chorus makes for excellent "echo" singing, so often one of us would start and the other would bring in the echo (which, traditionally, would probably be sung by the bass, but we didn't have a bass!) The rhythm would carry us through scrubbing floors, polishing furniture, cleaning mirrors and windows, or whatever we were doing.
As I get older, I have often found myself humming it to myself while I walk along, and a bounce appears in my step. I find it almost impossible to be sad while singing or listening to this song, and it is excellent for banishing angry or depressing thoughts; I find it re-focuses me on the feelings I should be giving my time to, rather than wallowing in sadness or anger, it re-purposes my thoughts. The hymn acknowledges sadness: "Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master/Though the loss sustained, the spirit often grieves." But it also reminds us that "When our weeping's over, He will bid us welcome." Life is full of trials sometimes; it is supposed to be. But at the end of our lives we will go to a place of joy the likes of which we can barely conceive of. And a loving Judge and Friend will then let us know our mistakes are forgiven (if we have repented), that the most un-lovable parts of us are loved, and that our work is just beginning.