This worship song was written in 1978 by Henry Smith. The young seminary graduate penned it during a difficult time in his life when he was struggling to find work and coming to terms with a degenerative eye condition that would eventually leave him legally blind. Smith's inspiration was the scripture, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." Finding hope in 2 Corinthians 8 v 9's description of God becoming human to save man, he penned this simple song of trust and giving thanks.
Following the introduction of the song during a worship service at the Williamsburg New Testament Church in Virginia, a military couple reintroduced it to a congregation in Germany. It eventually caught the attention of executives at Integrity Music, which is known for producing praise and worship music series under their label, Hosanna! Music.
In 1984, a young worship leader named Don Moen was hired by Hosanna! Music. This song was recorded as the title track of his debut album, which was laid down during a live worship service at Covenant Church of Mobile, Alabama in July 1986. Give Thanks was a tremendous success, becoming Hosanna's best-selling release, with more than one million copies sold worldwide. Church congregations around the world picked up on the song, and it is now recognized as one of the most popular contemporary hymns.