Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our Hymn of Grateful Praise

Rogation Sunday, a time to mark the changing season and our thanks for the good things of the earth is celebrated in some churches on the last Sunday of the Easter season. Today's hymn is probably still found in nearly every modern hymnal, as it has been for the last century and longer.

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory 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 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,

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind's delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight,

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

For each perfect gift of thine
to all people freely giv'n,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heav'n,

Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, 1864; alt.
Tune: DIX (
Conrad Kocher, 1838

Folliott Pierpoint, a native of Bath in England, reportedly wrote this text after returning from a walk on a fine spring day. Though the hymn is widely used, it is also widely altered; it almost seems that every hymnal editor who has chosen to include it has changed something in the text. Even the well-known last line of the refrain, which I used above as the title, was originally "this our sacrifice of praise." There are also three additional stanzas:

For thy Bride that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Off'ring up on every shore
This pure sacrifice of love,

For the martyrs' crown of light,
For thy prophets' eagle eye,
For thy bold confessors' might,
For the lips of infancy,

For thy virgins' robes of snow,
For thy maiden Mother mild,
For thyself, with hearts aglow,
Jesus,Victim undefiled,

The first of these is sometimes used, altering "Bride" to "Church," but the other two have disappeared completely. I suppose the assumption is that they don't go with the theme of God in Nature, though that wasn't really Sandford's original theme.

DIX is a German tune that was named at some later date in English hymnals when the tune came to be widely matched with
an Epiphany hymn by poet William Chatterton Dix.

Two Years Ago: Kindly Earth with Timely Birth

One Year Ago: Earth Feels the Season's Joyance


Leland Bryant Ross said...

Changing "Lord" to "Source" is a fairly substantive alteration. Some churches have "Christ our God" in place of "Lord of all"—I suspect COG may have been Pierpoint's original wording, though I haven't researched it—and occasionally you run across a hymnal that specified "LOA may be changed to COG for Communion use" or the like.

Someday I'll have to arrange to use the missing verses in a hymn-sing or something.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Yay! It took my comment via my Google account!

C.W.S. said...

As you know, we have no problem with substantive changes here.

The original, "Christ our God" was mostly unknown for many years, supplanted by "Lord of all," and only in recent years has returned to some hymnals. The companion to the 1964 Methodist Hymnal lists these additional versions of the line that they had seen:

Gracious God, to thee...
Father, unto thee...
Christ our Lord, to thee...

There may well have been others.