STLT#21, For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth, for the splendor of the skies,
for the love which from our birth over and around us lies:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human care, sister, brother, parent, child,
for the kinship we all share, for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

This is probably in my top five favorite hymns ever.

I loved it as a child, I loved it especially when I learned a solo version during my holy roller days, I loved it even more when I saw that the Unitarian Universalists changed “Lord” to “Source.” (I’m not sure why “glory” was changed to “splendor” – word allergies, I suppose.) I love it every time I hear it, just about every way it’s played (I once heard someone play it like a dirge. It was offensive.), I find myself singing it to myself. I have to be careful to not choose it as an opening hymn too often.

For me, this is a celebration of life – because for me, life isn’t just about the earth and its inhabitants. Life is about our spirits, our souls, our connection to something bigger and greater than us. Even if you don’t believe in God, it’s hard to believe we are completely isolated from each other – we are connected, and we constantly find ways to connect, whether through families and tribes, nations and states, highways and railways, telegraphs and telephones, the internet. We are connected to something greater, even if it is just our collective selves.

This hymn remembers that we’re connected to something greater than ourselves – Source of All. And it’s good, and appropriate that we sing a hymn of praise to that something greater. It’s what helps us find meaning, helps us find purpose, helps us be fully human and fully earthlings.

And in the praising, I find peace. I find comfort, I find assurance.

On a musical note (see what I did there?), I really wish everyone would take the breath, as marked, in the chorus. It’s “Source of all, to thee we raise this, [BREATH] our hymn of grateful praise.” Please, if you read this, breathe where you’re supposed to. It’s actually more meaningful and beautiful.

One Comment

  1. About that breath: I remember fondly that those of us in the children’s choir were told to breathe there because otherwise, we would be singing about “this sour hymn.” 😉

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