Hymn of the Month – For the Beauty of the Earth

may-forbeauty-blog

I know I’m running 19 days behind on posting this Hymn of the Month story. This month has been quite busy. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work including filming a music video! More to come on that. And Dave and I have had a lot going on that I’ll share in a few weeks. So that’s why I’m running so far behind on my hymn of the month story.

May’s hymn is For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliot Sandford Pierpoint. Before I go any further I have to be honest with you. I was on the fence about including this hymn in the hymn calendar. But there were two reasons I wanted to put this in. First this was sung in the Winona Ryder version of Little WomenIt’s one of my favorite scenes when the sisters sing this hymn in a circle around Meg at her wedding. The second reason is just the very name Folliot Sandford Pierpoint. It’s just so grandiose.

Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, son of William Home Pierpoint of Bath, was born at Spa Villa, Bath, Oct. 7, 1835, and educated at Queen’s College, Cambridge, graduating in classical honours in 1871. He was a classics schoolmaster and a poet. I tried to find more information about him but I couldn’t find anything.

The story goes that in 1864 when he was 29 years old, he was walking in spring on the grounds of his parent’s home in Bath, England. He was overwhelmed with the beauty he saw and wrote For the Beauty of the Earth. Below is an old postcard of the countryside of Bath. And I did a google search for “Bath England Countryside” and it’s simply breathtaking.

bath-england

This hymn was originally intended to be a communion hymn in the Anglican Church. The chorus was originally “Christ our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.” But over the years the hymn refrain has changed to “Lord of all, to thee we raise, this, our hymn of grateful praise.” It was first published in Rev. Orvy Shipley’s Lyra Eucharistica, 1864. And there were originally eight verses. It has been condensed down to five or six, depending on the hymnal. Here are the two less known verses.

Here is the original hymn of 1864:

1. For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the Love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

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:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

3. For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and brain’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

4. For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above;
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

5. For each perfect Gift of Thine
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and Divine,
Flowers of earth, and buds of Heaven:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

6. For Thy Bride that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
This Pure Sacrifice of Love:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

7. For Thy Martyrs’ crown of light,
For Thy Prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold Confessors’ might,
For the lips of Infancy:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

8. For Thy Virgins’ robes of snow,
For Thy Maiden Mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
Jesu, Victim undefiled,
Offer we at Thine own Shrine
Thyself, sweet Sacrament Divine.

For the download, I’m using the version I grew up from the United Methodist Hymnal. Click here to download the lyrics to this sweet hymn. And you can purchase a print of it in my shop if you’d like.

Hope you enjoyed these stories. I’ve really loved writing them. You can view all the previous hymn stories here.

Kate