Sometimes all you really have to say is YES!
I love this Hymn. I love that we sing this joyful alleluia to the earth and all its inhabitants, and that we use an Easter Hymn to sing this joy.
(Edit 4/24/17: In my sleep-deprived state, I called this an Easter hymn, but research by my colleague Aaron Stockwell reveals this is actually a shorter version of a Christian classic, All Creatures of our God and King, adapted from words of Francis of Assisi. Why I think of this as an Easter song, I’m not sure, but I do, but maybe I should stop that. Or maybe this is next year’s Easter sermon…)
Now I realize I have complained before about hymns that don’t really do anything except say yay to a litany of things. It happens frequently in songs connected to nature, because there is so dang much of it that’s so varied.
So what makes this different?
I am not sure, but I think it’s the alleluia. This is a praise song, pure and simple, and there’s an exuberance that comes in moments of praise.
I also think it’s different because the final verse serves as a reminder that we are part of this creation too, and by golly, we have a responsibility.
All creatures of the earth and sky,
come, kindred, lift your voices high,
Bright burning sun with golden beam,
soft shining moon with silver gleam:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Swift rushing wind so wild and strong,
white clouds that sail in heav’n along,
Fair rising morn in praise rejoice,
high stars of evening find a voice:
Cool flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for all life to hear,
Dance, flame of fire, so strong and bright,
and bless us with your warmth and light:
Embracing earth, you, day by day,
bring forth your blessings on our way,
All herbs and fruits that richly grow,
let them the glory also show:
All you of understanding heart,
forgiving others, take your part,
Let all things now the Holy bless,
and worship God in humbleness:
I will end with two notes:
First, I had a last minute request to be present at a youth con, and I’m exhausted. I have not done much research, by which I mean no research…
Second, what a perfect song to sing on Earth Day Weekend, a day after tens of thousands marched for science.
You know what they say about the importance of smiling even if you don’t feel like smiling — the act of smiling releases endorphins and other hormones that make you feel better, right? This hymn is one of those that has that kind of effect on me. Even if I’m not particularly feeling joyful, singing this hymn always brings me joy. It just soars in some way that lifts me up out of myself. (Somehow, the melody lines of the Alleluias remind me of the soaring lines in the refrain of We’ll Build a Land, which I believe cause a similar effect.) A friend of mine used to complain about too much “triumphant” music in many traditional Christian hymns, but this one somehow pulls it off, perhaps because, unlike many others, it doesn’t have the feeling of a march celebrating conquest and victory. And particularly with these words– yes, a perfect choice for Earth Day!