A Hymn of Thanksgiving

Grateful to you my readers

“A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100:1-5
Autumn Mist

“Gratitude, being nearly the greatest of human duties, is also nearly the most difficult.” – G. K. Chesterton

Before we consider the history of thanksgiving and the many wonderful quotes about thanksgiving by Chesterton, I want to take this time to say thank you to all of you my readers and wish you a blessed thanksgiving! Whether our time at the present is joyous or sad, all of us can remember what God has done for us in giving us life and hope and it is a great comfort to know that we always can.

There are many who came to this country like astronauts exploring new planets, calling it “the new world”. Because it was a new world to them. It was an age where the debate of round world vs flat world was still taking place. It was scary just going out your front door. As Tolkien was later to have his character of Bilbo to say: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

But no matter when they did it, earlier as the Catholic settlers did in Florida or later when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, or for what reason it was done, Americans have been coming together in thanksgiving meals for having arrived to this country alive and well.

On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and 800 Spanish settlers founded the city of St. Augustine in Spanish La Florida. As soon as they were ashore, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving Mass in Spanish La Florida

Presidents from Washington to Lincoln have set aside particular days designated as days of Thanksgiving for the nation. But it wasn’t until Congress officially declared the 4th Thursday in 1941 as a national holiday that everyone began celebrating Thanksgiving on the same day.

Chesterton had much to say about Thanksgiving, from observations of general gratitude that he had for everything God allowed him to do to his witty commentary on Turkeys to Pilgrims. So without further comment from this writer, let’s fill our plate with a Chesterton Thanksgiving Feast of Quotes (and a couple of my own recipes thrown in)!


We all know the Chesterton loved to eat! ( It would be great if we had a Chesterton cook book of Frances’ favorite recipes, wouldn’t it!?). In place of that, I share a couple of my own. This one helps use up both the giblet gravy and some of the dark meat of the day after turkey. Enjoy!
Whether the turkey which Scrooge gave to Bob Cratchit had experienced a lovelier or more melancholy career than that of less attractive turkeys is a subject upon which I cannot even conjecture. But that Scrooge was better for giving the turkey and Cratchit happier for getting it I know as two facts, as I know that I have two feet. What life and death may be to a turkey is not my business; but the soul of Scrooge and the body of Cratchit are my business. Nothing shall induce me to darken human homes, to destroy human festivities, to insult human gifts and human benefactions for the sake of some hypothetical knowledge which Nature curtained from our eyes. We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty. If we catch sharks for food, let them be killed most mercifully; let any one who likes love the sharks, and pet the sharks, and tie ribbons round their necks and give them sugar and teach them to dance. But if once a man suggests that a shark is to be valued against a sailor, or that the poor shark might be permitted to bite off a n leg occasionally; then I would court-martial the man–he is a traitor to the ship.” – G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered, 1915


This is something I am especially thankful to be able to do because I get to make it in just this way only on one day of the year – after Thanksgiving. Hope you can enjoy it, too!
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” – G. K Chesterton

In the same way, alas! we all go on every day, unless we are continually goading ourselves into gratitude and humility, seeing less and less of the significance of the sky or the stones. Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. If a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small. It is impossible without humility to enjoy anything – even pride. It is always the secure who are humble. The real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.” –G. K. Chesterton, The Innocence of Father Brown


A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, He has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished.– G.K. Chesterton, All Things Considered

A Hymn of Thanksgiving

“Perhaps it is natural that telling a little boy that he is going to have some toffee should be more explicit and explanatory than the little boy himself when he is eating the toffee; when he is stuffed and is stuck to his chair with toffee; and is in no mood to symbolize gratitude except by greed. One would not ask of him even a lyric cry that might become a hymn of thanksgiving; still less a perfect prose analyzing his own impressions. Little boys should be seen and not heard. In other words, they come to buy toffee, not to praise it. So long as no excessive noises are made in the mastication of that confection, we will excuse the youth from any long oratorical exercises in the way of returning thanks. And a certain amount of this natural disproportion between thrills and thanks is to be allowed for among all young people. The dreary agonies through which many a little boy must be going at this moment, in order to write three lines of thanks to his grandmother who gave him the toffee, is in itself no reflection on the toffee. Gratitude, being nearly the greatest of human duties, is also nearly the most difficult. And as grown-up people hardly ever think of being grateful for the sun and the moon and their own souls and bodies, it is easy to excuse the immature for finding it difficult to say thank you for a bag of sweets. Only, as I say, when all of these allowances have been made, there is still a disproportion between the promise of any great symbolic feast and the strange silence about any fulfilment of the promise. And it is connected with a certain commercial habit of certain people promising everything or anything, so that the other people have a tendency to thank them for nothing. There is a sort of silence about the absorption of many modern things, as compared with the loud shouts that heralded their arrival.” – G.K. Chesterton: The Illustrated London News, Dec. 28, 1935

So the Pilgrim Fathers spent 10 years in Leyden, Holland before finally deciding to outfit the Mayflower.
Because despite the fact that they were in Holland to be among their Puritan fellow believers, they couldn’t resist getting into doctrinal quarrels.
THAT’S why they came to America.
GOD IRONY: The Pilgrims were headed for Jamestown VIRGINIA and got blown off course and wound up in what they christened ‘New England’.
Fascinatingly, a few years ago the graves of the Jamestown settlers were dug up and ROSARY BEADS were found in the graves of many of them, including the Anglican pastor.”

And from there, 223 years later, many Americans were sitting in there living rooms watching PBS broadcast Monty Python’s Argument Clinic still trying to grasp the difference between an argument and a quarrel. 😉
People generally quarrel because they cannot argue. And it is extraordinary to notice how few people in the modern world can argue. This is why there are so many quarrels, breaking out again and again, and never coming to any natural end.” – G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News column, March 9, 1929
Our end was apparently….America.


The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England.” – G.K. Chesterton


The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.G.K. Chesterton, The God with the Golden Key, Autobiography

To all my readers: May you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving this weekend! I am very grateful for you!


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