reatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor and upon the captain and others. And although it be[181] not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” The First National Thanksgiving. The immediate occasion of the first thanksgiving was the surrender of General Burgoyne to General Gates, in the fall of 1777. Thursday, the 18th of December, was designated, and, in compliance with the order of Congress, the army at Valley Forge duly observed the day—the army that had tracked its way in blood. It was ordered by the Continental Congress. Washington’s Proclamation. Washington, as President of the United States, issued his first proclamation for the observance of a day of thanksgiving at the city of New York on the 3d of October, 1789, setting apart Thursday, the 26th day of November of that year, “to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,” etc. His second proclamation, dated at the city of Philadelphia, January 1, 1795, designated Thursday, November 26, as a day to be observed for a general thanksgiving by the people of the United States. Governor John Jay, of New York, thought so well of Thanksgiving Day, that he determined to have one of his own, and accordingly designated Thursday, November 26, 1795. [182] The First Boston Thanksgiving—July, 1630. [For Concert and Solo Recitation.] Hezekiah Butterworth. Solo. “Praise ye the Lord!” The psalm to-day That rises on our ears Rolls from the hills of Boston Bay Through five times fifty years— When Winthrop’s fleet from Yarmouth crept Out to the open main, And through the widening waters swept In April sun and rain, Concert. “Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,” The leader shouted, “pray;” And prayer arose from all the ships, As fadeth Yarmouth Bay. Solo. They passed the Scilly Isles that day, And May days came, and June, And thrice upon the ocean lay The full orb of the moon. And as that day, on Yarmouth Bay, Ere England sunk from view, While yet the rippling Solent lay In April skies of blue, Concert. “Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,” Each morn was shouted, “pray;” And prayer arose from all the ships, As first in Yarmouth Bay. Solo. Blew warm the breeze o’er Western seas, Through Maytime morns and June, Till hailed these souls the Isles of Shoals, Low, ’neath the summer moon; And as Cape Ann arose to view, And Norman’s Woe they passed, The wood-doves came the white mist through And circled round each mast. [183] Concert. “Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,” Then called the leader, “pray;” And prayer arose from all the ships, As first in Yarmouth Bay. Solo. The white wings folded, anchors down, The sea-worn fleet in line; Fair rose the hills where Boston town Should rise from clouds of pine; Fair was the harbor, summit-walled, And placid lay the sea. “Praise ye the Lord,” the leader called; “Praise ye the Lord,” spake he. Concert. “Give thanks to God with fervent lips, Give thanks to God to-day.” The anthem rose from all the ships, Safe moored in Boston Bay. Solo. That psalm our fathers sung we sing, That psalm of peace and wars, While o’er our heads unfolds its wing, The flag of forty stars; And while the nation finds a tongue For nobler gifts to pray, ’Twill ever sing the song they sung That first Thanksgiving Day: Concert. “Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips, Praise ye the Lord to-day.” So rose the song from all the ships, Safe moored in Boston Bay. Concert. Ho! vanished ships from Yarmouth’s tide, Ho! ships of Boston Bay, Your prayers have crossed the centuries wide To this Thanksgiving Day! We pray to God with fervent lips, We praise the Lord to-day, As prayers arose from Yarmouth ships, But psalms from Boston Bay. [184] Thanksgiving for his House. Robert Herrick (1591-1674). Lord, thou hast given me a cell Wherein to dwell, A little house whose humble roof Is weather-proof; Under the sparres of which I lie Both soft and dry; Where thou, my chamber for to ward, Hast set a guard Of harmless thoughts to watch and keep Me, while I sleep. Low is my porch, as is my fate, Both void of state; And yet the threshold of my doore Is worn by th’ poore, Who hither come, and freely get Good words, or meat. ’Tis thou that crownest my glittering hearth With guiltlesse mirthe, And givest me wassaile bowls to drink, Spiced to the brink. Lord, ’tis thy plenty-dropping hand That soiles my land And givest me for my bushel sown Twice ten for one; Thou makest my teeming hen to lay Her egg each day. All these, and better, thou dost send Me, to this end, That I should render, for my part, A thankful heart; Which, fired with incense, I resigne As wholly Thine: But the acceptance, that must be, O Lord, by Thee. [185] Thanksgiving. William D. Howells. Lord, for the erring thought Not into evil wrought! Lord, for the wicked will Betrayed and baffled still! For the heart from itself kept, Our thanksgiving accept. For ignorant hopes that were Broken to our blind prayer; For pain, death, sorrow, sent Unto our chastisement; For all loss of seeming good, Quicken our gratitude. Harper’s Magazine. Thanksgiving Ode. John G. Whittier. Once more the liberal year laughs out O’er richer stores than gems or gold; Once more with harvest-song and shout Is nature’s bloodless triumph told. Our common mother rests and sings, Like Ruth, among her garnered sheaves; Her lap is full of goodly things, Her brow is bright with autumn leaves. O favors every year made new! O gifts with rain and sunshine sent! The bounty overruns our due; The fullness shames our discontent. We shut our eyes, and flowers bloom on; We murmur, but the corn-ears fill; We choose the shadow, but the sun That casts it shines behind us still. [186] God gives us with our rugged soil The power to make it Eden-fair, And richer fruits to crown our toil Than summer-wedded islands bear. Who murmurs at his lot to-day? Who scorns his native fruit and bloom? Or sighs for dainties far away, Beside the bounteous board of home? Thank Heaven, instead, that Freedom’s arm Can change a rocky soil to gold; That brave and generous lives can warm A clime with Northern ices cold. And let these altars, wreathed with flowers And piled with fruits, awake again Thanksgivings for the golden hours, The early and the latter rain! Elsie’s Thanksgiving. Margaret E. Sangster. Dolly, it’s almost Thanksgiving; do you know what that means, my dear? No? Well, I couldn’t expect it; you haven’t been with us a year, And you came with my auntie from Paris, far over the wide blue sea, And you’ll keep your first Thanksgiving, my beautiful Dolly, with me. I’ll tell you about it, my darling, for grandma’s explained it all, So that I understand why Thanksgiving always comes late in the fall, When the nuts and the apples are gathered, and the work in the field is done, And the fields, all reaped and silent, are asleep in the autumn sun. [187] It is then that we praise Our Father who sends the rain and the dew, Whose wonderful loving-kindness is every morning new; Unless we’d be heathen, Dolly, or worse, we must sing and pray, And think about good things, Dolly, when we keep Thanksgiving Day. But I like it very much better when from church we all go home, And the married brothers and sisters and the troops of cousins come, And we’re ever so long at the table, and dance and shout and play, In the merry evening, Dolly, that ends Thanksgiving day. Thanksgivings of Old. E. A. Smuller. Oh, the glorious Thanksgivings Of the days that are no more! How, with each recurring season, Wakes their mem’ry o’er and o’er! When the hearts of men were simpler, And the needs of life were less, And its mercies were not reckoned By the measure of excess. Heaven send the glad Thanksgiving Of that older, simpler time! Tarry with us, not in fancy, Not in retrospective rhyme; But in true and living earnest May the spirit of that day, Artless, plain, and unpretending, Once again resume its sway! [188] CHRISTMAS. The Day of Days. Solo. ’Twas eighteen hundred years ago, Not in a region of ice and snow, But far in the land of the early morn, The oldest of lands, our Christ was born. Concert. Of all the joy-days under the sun, Of all the holidays, there’s but one That comes to the heart, and clings to the home— Christmas has come! Solo. Still through the length of the multiplied years, Sunshine of pleasure, and rainfall of tears, Changes and growth in wonderful ways, Christmas remains the great day of days. Concert. The day of the hope that casteth out fear, The day of all days that brings good cheer In the country’s peace and the city’s hum— Christmas has come! Solo. Now in the uttermost ends of the earth The story is told of the Christ-child’s birth; And millions, wherever the sun’s rays fall, Are kin in the hope that is dear to all. Concert. All over the lands and far out on the seas Is a lifting of voices and bowing of knees; And alike to us all, if we rest or roam, Christmas has come! [189] Solo. Wherever the blessings of mortals increase, With customs and laws that give joy and peace; Where science and art yield comfort and bliss, All over the world there is no day like this. Concert. Of all the joy-days under the sun, Of all the holidays, there’s but one That touches the heart and clings to the home— Christmas has come! Christmas in Olden Time. Sir Walter Scott. Heap on more wood!—the wind is chill; But, let it whistle as it will, We’ll keep our Christmas merry still. Each age has deemed the new-born year The fittest time for festal cheer. And well our Christmas sires of old Loved, when the year its course had rolled And brought blithe Christmas back again With all its hospitable train, With social and religious rite To honor all the holy night. On Christmas-eve the bells were rung; On Christmas-eve the mass was sung. Then opened wide the Baron’s hall To vassal, tenant, serf, and all; Power laid his rod of rule aside, And Ceremony doffed her pride. All hailed with uncontrolled delight And general voice the happy night, That to the cottage, as the crown, Brought tidings of salvation down. The fire, with well-dried logs supplied, Went roaring up the chimney wide; [190] The huge hall-table’s oaken face, Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace, Bore then upon its massive board No mark to part the squire and lord. Then came the merry maskers in And carols roared with blithesome din. If unmelodious was the song, It was a hearty note and strong. England was merry England when Old Christmas brought his sports again. ’Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale; ’Twas Christmas told the merriest tale; A Christmas gambol oft could cheer The poor man’s heart through half the year. A Christmas Thought about Dickens. Bertha S. Scranton. Westminster is gray at midnight, With shadows from wall to wall; They have noiseless feet, these shadows, And make no sound as they fall. But I ween they will creep together, A goodly band to-night, Over a silent marble name, In the Christmas-eve twilight. All the tiny dear child-people We hold in our hearts to-day, Who will live when that same marble Has crumbled to dust away. “Little Em’ly’s” ghost that haunteth The minster’s shadowy aisle, With the grave, sweet face of Agnes, And the child-wife Dora’s smile. [191] Then will come, I ween, with the others, Poor Smike with his patient air, And the seven little Kenwigs, With their braided tails of hair. And Jenny Wren, I can promise, Will surely be there again, With her slanting rows of children, Crying, “Who is this in pain?” Little Nell will wake and listen, When the white, white world is still And the great chimes through the midnight From the belfry tower thrill. The little Cratchits will hearken And wait till the goose is done, And the voice of tiny Tim will cry, “God bless us every one!” But ah! for the living mourners On either side of the sea, For whom no more the brave hand writes, The heart beats cheerily. And ah! for the saddened chambers, Where his watchers ever wait, They unto whom life yields but pain, And who keep its vigil late. Westminster is gray with shadows, But his children never die! Through all the Christmas times to come Will his carol notes ring high. The dreamer has but awakened, And the master’s work is done, But the bells on Time’s great steeple Ring, “God bless us every one!” [192] [In the following selection the numbered stanzas can be given in concert with a musical accompaniment.] The Star in the West. QUEBEC—1635. Hezekiah Butterworth. ’Tis the fortress of St. Louis, The Church of Recoverance, And hang o’er the crystal crosses The silver lilies of France. In the fortress a knight lies dying, In the church are priests at prayer, And the bell of the Angelus sweetly Throbs out on the crimsoned air. The noblest knight is dying That ever served a king, And he looks from the fortress window As the bells of the Angelus ring. Old scenes come back to his vision, Again his ship’s canvases swell In the harbor of gray St. Malo, In the haven of fair Rochelle. He sees the emparadised ocean That he dared when his years were young, The lagoons where his lateen-sail drifted As the Southern Cross over it hung; Acadie, the Richelieu’s waters, The lakes through the midlands that rolled, And the cross that he planted wherever He lifted the lilies of gold. He lists to the Angelus ringing, He folds his white hands on his breast, And far o’er the clouded forests A star verges low in the West! [193] I. “Star on the bosom of the West, Chime on, O bell, chime on, O bell! To-night with visions I am blest, And filled with light ineffable! No angels sing in crystal air, No clouds ’neath seraphs’ footsteps glow, No feet of seers o’er mountains fair A portent follows far; but lo! A star is glowing in the West, The world shall follow it from far— Chime on, O Christmas bells, chime on! Shine on, shine on, O Western Star! II. “In yonder church that storms have iced— I founded it upon this rock— I’ve daily kissed the feet of Christ, In worship with my little flock. But I am dying—I depart, Like Simeon old my glad feet go, A star is shining in my heart. Such as the Magi saw; and lo! A star is shining in the West, The world shall hail it from afar! Chime on, O Christmas bells, chime on! Shine on, shine on, O Western Star! III. “Beside the Fleur de Lis of France, The faith I’ve planted in the North, Ye messengers of Heaven, advance; Ye mysteries of the Cross, shine forth! I know the value of the earth, I’ve learned its lessons; it is done; One soul alone outweighs in worth The fairest kingdom of the sun. [194] Star on the bosom of the West, My dim eyes follow thee afar. Chime on, chime on, O Christmas bells! Shine on, shine on, O golden Star! IV. “What rapture! hear the sweet choirs sing, While death’s cold shadows o’er me fall, Beneath the lilies of my King— Go, light the lamps in yonder hall. Mine eyes have seen the Christ Star glow Above the New World’s temple gates. Go forth, celestial heralds, go! Earth’s fairest empire thee awaits! Star on the bosom of the West, What feet shall follow thee from far? Chime on, O Christmas bells, chime on! Shine on forever, golden Star!” ’Twas Christmas morn; the sun arose ’Mid clouds o’er the St. Lawrence broad, And fell a sprinkling of the snows As from the uplifted hand of God. Dead in the fortress lay the knight, His white hands crossed upon his breast, Dead, he whose clear prophetic sight Beheld the Christ Star in the West. That morning, ’mid the turrets white, The low flags told the empire’s last, They hung the lilies o’er the knight, And by the lilies set the cross. Long, on Quebec, immortal heights, Has Champlain slept, the knight of God; The Western Star shines on, and lights The growing empire, fair and broad. And though are gone the knights of France, Still lives the spirit of the North; The heralds of the Star advance, And Truth’s eternal light shines forth. [195]

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