Matthias Claudius trained in theology but became a journalist and civil servant. In 1783 he published a short sketch of a harvest thanksgiving in a German farmhouse at which a song is sung. Verses of this were taken to make a hymn and set to the present tune in a publication of 1800. Jane Campbell translated the hymn some fifty years later and it has, since its inclusion in the Hymns Ancient and Modern Supplement
of 1869, been a necessary part of any Harvest Festival. Though seeming light and unpretentious, the words are thoroughly biblical.
The tune’s composer rose from humble beginnings in Germany to be the Master of the Chapel to the King of Denmark. It has a wide range, but when a congregation’s imagination is captured, as with this hymn, no obstacle seems too great.
from notes by Alan Luff © 2002