STLT#282, Let the Whole Creation Cry

Once upon a time, there was a psalm.

This psalm, numbered 148, is a song of praise for the universality of God. It asks humans, rocks, cedars, even cattle and sea monsters and frost and fire to praise God.

This psalm inspired a Victorian theologian of Irish descent, Stopford Brooke, to write a hymn.

This hymn was full of monarchical and military language. Kings and warriors feature prominently.

The hymn lived happily ever after.

Except.

This hymn was too much for even modern Presbyterians, who recast Brooke’s hymn to get rid of all the warrior stuff.

The hymn lived happily ever after.

Except.

The Presbyterian recast was too short, however, for the Unitarian Universalists, who went back to Brooke’s text and found a few more lines that worked well and could be recovered.

Those same UUs also went back to the psalm (remember the psalm? the one that kicked this whole thing off?) and grabbed back the birds and the ocean.

They left the sea monsters where they were.

And in the process, they managed to write a wonderful hymn based on Psalm 148 that borrows a lot from Brooke’s hymn – particularly the opening phrase, and which reflects a process theology. (I especially like verse three.)

The hymn lived happily ever after.

Except.

We in 2017 get to the second verse and realize we still have ‘men and women’ – a phrase much needed in 1993 but that we now know doesn’t include everyone.

The moral of the story is: happily ever after always needs tweaking.

Let the whole creation cry, “Glory be to God on high!”
Heaven and earth, awake and sing, to your God your praises bring.
Sun and moon, uplift your voice, night and stars, in God rejoice;
sunshine, darkness, cloud, and storm, rain and snow in praise perform.

Chant in honor, ocean fair; earth, soft rushing through the air;
birds, with morn and dew elate, sing with joy at heaven’s gate.
Let the blossoms of the earth join the universal mirth;
men and women, young and old, raise the anthem manifold.

You to whom the arts belong, add your voices to the song;
bards of knowledge and of law, to the glorious circle draw.
From the north to southern pole let the mighty chorus roll:
“Holy, holy, holy,” cry; “Glory be to God on high!”

The tune is St. George’s Windsor – we sang it last as Come Ye Thankful People, Come.

And by the way, here’s the original psalm, complete with creeping things and sea monsters:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.*

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Bonus points if you can name the show the image came from, and who the kid is.

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