Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hymn History - For the Beauty of the Earth

I've been writing a hymn study once or twice a month for a home-published christian newsletter I and some friends of mine are the editors of.  I thought I'd share (or rather, re-commence sharing) the articles here.

Enjoy!

Folliott Piermont (1835-1917) was born in Bath, England and was a lay member of the Anglican Church. Following his graduation from Queen's College, Cambridge, he taught the classics for a time at Somerset College, later becoming a freelance writer. During his 82 years of life, Pierpoint published seven volumes of poems and hymn texts, many of them showing his love for nature. He is most remembered for this beautiful hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth.

Piermont was about 29 years old when he wrote the text for this joyful hymn.  It was a lovely day in late spring.  While enjoying the surrounding area of his native city of Bath, in England, he was inspired by the beautiful countryside with its winding cool and peaceful river, Avon, in the distance. The tuneful songbirds, the wind wispering over a vibrantly colored hillside, all seemed to be praising the Creator with their unrestrianed gladness and peace.  Overwhelmed with emotion, he expressed his feelings of gratitude in the penning of this sacred song.

For the Beauty of the Earth was set to the beautiful tune of "Dix."  Its composer, Conrad Kocher (1786-1872), born in Wurttëmberg, was an important musician and reformer of German church music.  The tune name "Dix" came from the association of this melody with William Dix's hymn, "As With Gladness Men of Old," which was often sung in Protestant services on Christmas to celebrate Christ's birth.

This hymn, which made it's first appearance in 1864 under the name "The Sacrifice of Praise", was inspired by the Scripture in Hebrews 13:15.
"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." -Hebrews 13:15.

"The Sacrifice of Praise" consisted of 8 four-line stanzas. A verse not included in most hymnals, even today, gives thanks for God Himself. It is He who has made all of the joys and beauties of life possible, and provides a hope for all eternity.

"For Thyself, best Gift Divine!
To our race so freely given;
For that great, great love of Thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven: 
Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise."

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) 
~For the Beauty of the Earth~
For the beauty of the earth
For the Glory of the skies, 
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies: 
Refrain: Lord of all, to Thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
Alternative (original) refrain:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise 
This, our sacrifice of praise. 
For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night, 
Hill and vale and tree and flow'r 
Sun and Moon and stars of light 
Refrain
For each perfect gift of Thine
Down to us so freely given.
Graces human and divine
Flow'rs of earth and buds of heav'n.
Refrain

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child.
Friends on earth and friends above
For all gentle thoughts and mild.

Refrain
"For Thyself, best Gift Divine! 
To our race so freely given;
For that great, great love of Thine, 
peace on earth, and joy in heaven!
Refrain
~*~*~*~*~*~
Vive Ut Vivas!
Love,
~Me~

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your write up-a favorite song of mine!

    ReplyDelete

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