This week is Thanksgiving, perhaps the most renown harvest festival. Most of us are far removed from the farms that grow our sustenance, and so it's easy to forget that Thanksgiving was a celebration of a good harvest.
Grainger is Australia's most famous composer. Moving to London at a young age, his talent as a pianist led to a career of composition. He became friends with Edvard Grieg, and his friendship led to a fascination with Scandinavian music that inspired this piece. He also "collected" folk songs, traveling over England with one of the new fangled phonographs. He ended up recording over 200 songs on wax cylinders.
Interestingly, he never returned to Australia, although while touring in America he enlisted in the U.S. Army and played in a band during World War I. He had a long and successful career in the United States.
This short piece is pretty representative of his "folk music" approach, taking a traditional Swedish hymn of thanksgiving and dressing it up for orchestra.