Have you heard of Heman the Ezrahite?
There’s a good chance you haven’t because he’s a rather obscure Old Testament character. I just learned about him recently. In the choirs of David, musicians Heman and Jeduthun were appointed to give thanks. It was literally their job to offer thanksgiving to Jehovah-God.
Heman, grandson of Samuel, is the author of Psalm 88, a psalm of lament in the Hebrew Bible. Heman may have suffered from depression or simply experienced a “down” day: Psalm 88 mentions that he is sorely troubled:
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol. ~ Psalm 88
No doubt he authored songs of praise too, which he knew would be appropriate in his assignment as minister of music. Praise is both powerful and therapeutic.
As a young girl growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I remember Harvest Home services at Bossler Mennonite Church. In our rural community, farmers were joyous, thanking God for a bountiful yield from fertile soil. A regular part of the church calendar, this special service was held usually on a Saturday afternoon in October. Farm families rejoiced that months of planting and cultivating the soil yielded a bountiful harvest. Even if it was a dry year with less produce, the service still expressed gratitude.
This website offers more details about Harvest Home, including the fact that less conservative Mennonite churches held a similar service, the altar festive with sheaves of wheat, ears of corn, gourds, and pumpkins. I don’t remember such colorful adornment in our church, though we were probably no less thankful.
One of the hymns we sang was The God of Harvest Praise, written by James Montgomery in 1840, printed in the Mennonite Hymnal as Hymn #575.
And, Every Day Will I Bless Thee, based on Psalm 145:2, King James Version, sung à cappella
Have you heard of Heman or Jeduthun?
Your thoughts about Thanksgiving celebrations?
Happy Thanksgiving to all! I will return in December.