No, this hymn wasn’t written regarding our American Thanksgiving. It was written in giving thanks for salvation and the freedom in Christ we have received in our salvation. It is told through the voice of the demoniac freed from Legion. I found it most fitting on this Thanksgiving Day.
MARK – The Legion dispossessed. Chap. 5:18, 19
1 LEGION was my name by nature,
Satan rag’d within my breast;
Never misery was greater,
Never sinner more possess’d:
Mischievous to all around me,
To myself the greatest foe;
Thus I was when Jesus found me,
Fill’d with madness, sin, and woe.
2 Yet in this forlorn condition,
When he came to set me free,
I reply’d to my Physician,
“What have I to do with thee?”
But he would not be prevented,
Rescu’d me against my will;
Had he staid till I consented,
I had been a captive still.
3 “Satan, though thou fain wouldst have it,
Know, this soul is none of thine;
I have shed my blood to save it,
Now I challenge it for mine:*
Though it long has thee resembled,
Henceforth it shall me obey:”
Thus he spoke, while Satan trembled,
Gnash’d his teeth, and fled away.
4 Thus my frantic soul he healed,
Bid my sins and sorrows cease;
“Take,” said he, “my pardon sealed,”
“I have sav’d thee, go in peace.”
Rather take me, Lord, to heaven,
Now thy love and grace I know;
Since thou hast my sins forgiven,
Why should I remain below?
5 “Love,” he said “will sweeten labours,
Thou hast something yet to do;
Go and tell your friends and neighbours,
What my love has done for you:
Live to manifest my glory,
Wait for heaven a little space;
Sinners, when they hear thy story,
Will repent, and seek my face.”
John Newton and Richard Cecil, The Works of John Newton, vol. 3 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 407–408.