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Lilly Library

A Song of National Thanksgiving

Give Thanks All  ye People

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November that year, November 26th. Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States since 1863. The hymn Give Thanks All Ye People (music by Joseph W. Turner and words by William Augustus Muhlenberg) was published as a contribution to the 1863 observance. Taking place in the midst of civil war, the publication of this hymn was also a fund-raising effort to benefit St. Luke’s Hospital, New York. Funds collected were used for the relief of discharged and disabled soldiers and their sick wives and children, a population described in the appeal circular printed on the last page of the music as “a class of sufferers eminently deserving of consideration on an occasion of National Gratitude.”

This example is one of thousands of pieces of sheet music from the Lilly Library’s collection of sheet music that have been digitized and are available on the website InHarmony The Lilly Library’s collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, and newspapers relating to the life of Abraham Lincoln is also quite extensive. Some of the Lincoln materials will be displayed next Spring to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth (more details to follow).

– Elizabeth Johnson, Head of Technical Services

View the full digitized copy of Give Thanks All Ye People.