Posted by: rcottrill | February 25, 2013

For the Beauty of the Earth

Words: Folliot Sandford Pierpoint (b. Oct. 7, 1835; d. Mar. 10, 1917)
Music: Dix, by Conrad Kocher (b. Dec. 16, 1786; d. Mar. 12:1872)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune Dix is also used with the carol As with Gladness, Men of Old, and is named for the author of the latter song, William Dix.

Mr. Pierpoint lived in the city of Bath, in England. On one beautiful spring day he was seated on a hilltop overlooking the city. The whole panorama of the beauty of nature, and of God’s gifts in terms of the prosperous city, spread out before him, inspiring him to write his hymn It was published in 1864, and entitled “The Sacrifice of Praise” (cf. Heb. 13:15). Though it may not seem to relate directly to the Lord’s Supper, that is where Folliot Pierpoint intended it to be used.

The original hymn had eight stanzas. Commonly used today are CH-1, 2, 4 and 5. What Pierpoint meant in CH-8 by “our race” I’m not sure. Was he thinking of white-skinned people only, or more exclusively still of his British heritage? Whatever the case, we can simply see it as a reference to the human race, because God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).

CH-8) For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heaven.

The refrain deserves some comment as well. The original made a direct reference to the deity of Christ with:

Christ our God, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Seemingly fearful of offending the liberals, the first line has been changed in a variety of ways: “Gracious God, to Thee we raise;” or “Father, unto Thee we raise;” or “Lord of all, to Thee we raise.” (The latter has, strangely, been adopted by some evangelical hymnals, though not all. Great Hymns of the Faith retains the original.)

Would they have tried to hush up Thomas too, who addressed Jesus as “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28)? He is, after all, “our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13). The deity of Christ has been a keystone of the Christian faith from the beginning. About AD 111, Pliny, the governor of Bithynia, had his first encounter with Christianity, and wrote of it to the emperor Trajan, saying “they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn, and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god.”

This is another thanksgiving hymn that calls us to remember the many things for which we should be grateful to the Lord. Johnson Oatman’s Count Your Blessings is another example, as is August Storm’s Thanks to God for My Redeemer, and Seth and Bessie Sykes’ Thank You, Lord. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (Jas. 1:17). With the psalmist we say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Ps. 103:2).

First Thessalonians 5:23 speaks of our “spirit, soul, and body.” If we take that tripartite view, it gives us an interesting way to list some of the blessings of God–recognizing, of course, that there’s bound to be some crossover.

¤ The spirit is that part of our being that has the ability to discern spiritual and eternal realities. Among the blessings appreciated spiritually are: our Saviour and eternal life; the Holy Spirit; the Word of God; spiritual gifts; the privilege of ministry and fruitfulness in it.

¤ The soul is that part of our being that has an awareness of who we are, and of what gives us inward pain or pleasure. (The First Thessalonians text uses the Greek word psuche, from which we get our word psychology.) Among the blessings that refresh our souls are: the beauty of nature; music, art, literature; companionship with friends.

¤ The body is that part of our being related to things that affect us physically. Among the blessings enjoyed at this level are: good food, shelter and clothing; the abilities provided by our senses to see and hear, do things, and go places.

CH-1) For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Christ our God, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

CH-2) For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.

Questions:
1) What are some blessings you are particularly grateful for today?

2) What is implied by calling praise a “sacrifice,” in Hebrews 13:15)?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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