Hymn of the Month – For the Beauty of the Earth


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.


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.


Hymn of the Month – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross


isaac-wattsI planned for this rich hymn to fall on Easter. And it just worked out divinely that I’m sharing this story with you on Good Friday. I have been looking so forward to sharing the story of the man who wrote this hymn. I’m going to start by telling you about Watts’ life then focus on his hymn writing and how he changed church history.

Watts was born July 17th, 1674, in Southampton, England. His father was a deacon of a Congregational Church (a Protestant church which was a system of local independent churches not associated with a larger church government.) England was very strict on this so his father was incarcerated twice for his views that did not align with the Church of England.

abney_house_stoke_newington_dr._watts_residenceHe was unable to attend Oxford or Cambridge because he wasn’t an Anglican (Church of England.) He went to the Dissenting Academy in Stoke Newington (which is now part of inner London.) At twenty after completing his studies he returned to his parents house, spending two years in study to prepare for ministry. Then he lived for several years with Sir John Hartopp as the tutor to his son.

In 1702 at 28 years old, he became the successor and assistant of  Dr. Isaac Chauncy, pastor of the Independent Church in Mark Lane, London. During this time he battled a dangerous illness which left him so weak that he required an assistant of his own. abneypark-statueHe was invited to the palatial home of Sir Thomas Abney for a week. He stayed there for 36 years at Abney House. The house burned down in 1843. I could only find this drawing which I hope is accurate.

He particularly loved the grounds of Abney Park.  Watts often sought inspiration there for the many books and hymns he wrote. And there is now a statue of Watts in the Park. Lady Abney watched over Watts with unremitting care. He died after a long illness on November 25, 1748.

Hymns and Spiritual Songs

page-of-watts-first-hymnalThe hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, was written by Isaac Watts, and published in Hymns and Spiritual Songs in 1707. He was just 33 years old when he published the book.
The first edition contained in all 210 hymns, arranged in three books, together with doxologies. in the 3rd book, containing hymns to be used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” appeared as number 7. Within two years he wrote 147 more hymns and included them in the second edition that was printed in 1709. We don’t know the specifics of when he wrote When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

It is hard for us to comprehend how revolutionary it was to write a book hymns. It simply wasn’t done in 1707 in England. All denominations in the church were only singing Pslams. There had been writers of hymns before Watts, but none had established a precedent for which he was supposed to conform. It was Watts himself who became the precedent.

Since the Reformation, the idea being that the Psalms of the Bible were inspired by God to serve as the hymn book of His Church for all time. Watts printed these hymns with an essay, arguing that it was the duty of the Church to make new hymns that should express Christian faith in the same degree that the Psalms had expressed the Jewish faith. As you can see in the title page explaining the essay, “Towards the Improvement of Christian Pslamody, by the Use of Evangelical Hymns in Worship, as well as the Psalms of David.” This man is the reason we sing hymns and not just Psalms! What a wondrous legacy he left us with. And with such a rich hymn.

He is recognized as the “Father of English Hymnody,” credited with some 750 hymns. Another famous hymn of his is Joy to the World. He also wrote a book on logic published in 1724. The title is quite lengthy which kinda makes me laugh: Logic, or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. He also wrote a book of songs for children. You can still purchase a copy, or download a free copy with beautiful illustrations. In the children’s book, his best-known poems was an exhortation “Against Idleness and Mischief” in Divine Songs for Children. This was parodied by Lewis Carroll in the poem “How Doth the Little Crocodile”, included in his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. His parody is better known than the original Watts’ poem.

You can print off a copy of the here. Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.

1. When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Hymn of the Month – It is Well with my Soul


Horatio Gates Spafford

Horatio Gates Spafford

This month is the much beloved hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” And this is a very heavy story. And I’ll start by saying most of my information is coming from the Library of Congress. There was an exhibition “The American Colony in Jerusalem” in 2005 on the history of the American Colony, a Christian utopian society that formed in Jerusalem in 1881. And Horatio Spafford (the hymn writer) was a part of it, so this exhibit included the full story of this hymn. There is so much more to the story that I won’t tell so I do encourage you to read further about the exhibition.

Horatio Gates Spafford was born in Troy, New York, October 20, 1928. He married Anna Larsen of Stavanger, Norway, in Chicago September 5, 1861. He became a very successful (and wealthy) lawyer. He was a senior partner of his firm. They were very active in their church. They became close friends with famous preacher Dwight Moody. And they were very active in abolitionist crusade.

Ten years later in 1871, their only son died of pneumonia. And the Great Fire of Chicago happened later that year, destroying Spafford’s investments. All their fortune was gone. That alone is more than enough for one family to endure over a lifetime. But it does get worse.

This was his business card in Chicago.

This was his business card in Chicago.

In 1873 to benefit Anne’s health, the family planned an extended trip to Europe. But at the last moment, Horatio was detained by real estate business. Anna and their four daughters Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta, sailed to Paris on the steamer Ville du Havre. Within 12 minutes on November 21, 1873, the steamer sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after it was rammed by the British sailing ship Lochearn. 

The crew of the Lochearn picked up Anna who was unconscious. They did not find her daughters. A cargo sailing vessel Trimountain arrived just in time to rescue the survivors from the Lochearn. Nine days after the shipwreck, Anna landed in Cardiff, Wales. She sent a telegram to Horatio that said, “Saved alone what shall I do. Mrs [Daniel] Goodwin [friend] Children [Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta Spafford] Willie Culver [neighbor boy] lost go with [Rev.] Lorriaux [French minister, a fellow survivor of shipwreck] until answer reply . . . Paris. [Anna] Spafford.”

Telegram from Anna Spafford

The telegram from Anna Spafford to Horatio

Horatio immediately left Chicago to bring Anna home. On the Atlantic crossing, the captain called to Horatio to tell him that they were passing over the spot where his four daughters had been lost at sea. The story goes that he wrote “It is well with my soul” while passing over that where he lost his daughters. He wrote to Rachel, his wife’s half-sister, “On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs, and there,before very long, shall we be too. In the meantime, thanks to God, we have an opportunity to serve and praise Him for His love and mercy to us and ours. I will praise Him while I have my being. May we each one arise, leave all, and follow Him.” Below is the hymn “It is Well with my Soul” that Horatio wrote while crossing over the Atlantic. Phillip Bliss wrote the tune to the hymn and named it Ville du Havre after the ship which his daughter’s died.


Horatio and Anna return heartbroken to Chicago. In 1878 their daughter Bertha was born, two years a son Horatio. An epidemic of scarlet fever broke out and their baby son died. Sadly rumors spread all around their church about what had the Spaffords done for God to punish them. (Which allow me to pause. That is simply wrong. I immediately think of Job and his suffering. Also Jesus suffered beyond human comprehension and he was blameless. God used it for His glory and his Kingdom to come. There has always been suffering with the Church and always will be. So I hate to hear that for them. I’m sure they needed their church to support and love them, not judge.) So they left their church Fullerton Presbyterian Church. Along with a group of close friends, Horatio and Anna decide to set out of Jerusalem in August 1881. They left right after their daughter Grace was born.

Thirteen adults and three children make the journey to Jerusalem. They rent a house in the Old City and began philanthropic work. Their neighbors called them the “American Colony.” They envisioned living a communal life like the model of the early Christian church. Over the years the colony grew, past Horatio’s death in 1888. The history of the American Colony in Jerusalem is quite fascinating. Their daughter Bertha Spafford Vester founded the Spafford Children’s Center in 1925 after she took in a baby in need. The organization is still very active today caring for all people in the area.

Help is given to anyone in need, regardless of race, religion or cultural background. The Center is unusual, in an area of sectarian conflict, in having staff of different faiths working together for a common cause – the benefit of deprived and sick children.

I didn’t know about the legacy of Horatio and Anna before researching the hymn. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can print off a copy of the hymn here. And you can buy a print of the hymn in my shop!


Hymn of the Month – Jesus Lover of my Soul


The first printing of the hymn, taken from Studies of Familiar Hymns, Second Series by Louis F. Benson

The first printing of the hymn, taken from Studies of Familiar Hymns, Second Series by Louis F. Benson

This month’s hymn “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” was written by the famous Charles Wesley who with his brother John founded the Methodist Church. This hymn was one of 7,000 hymns that Charles wrote. Yes I just said 7,000.

I’ve stepped up my game in researching hymns thanks to Kevin Twit who suggested the books Studies of Familiar Hymns by Louis F. Benson. I now own both volumes and will be using that my main resource. If you are into hymns and history like I am, I highly suggest buying them online! I bought both books for less than $20. Also there are some pictures inside of the original written hymn in the author’s handwriting. This story comes from volume two.

Charles was one of 19 children to Rev. Samuel and Susannah Wesley. Charles was born December 18, 1707 and grew up in the tiny town of Epworth in Lincolnshire, England. Both Charles and John attended Oxford University. They were ordained in the Church of England went to Georgia. John went as a missionary and Charles served as a secretary to General Oglethorpe who I remember studying in history class. On the ship to America, John was impressed by some German Moravians who were singing with such joy. He learned what spiritual songs could do for spiritual life. John learned German so he could translate the hymns for fellow voyagers. Seeing the Moravians love new songs and their faith sparked a fire in both Charles and John. They went back to England. Charles became out as a wandering preacher and John established the first “societies” that were the start of the Methodist church. But Charles soon couldn’t stop his love of writing poetry. There is a story about him, that after a horseback accident, he wrote about his bruises and that it “spoiled my making hymns until the next day.” On his deathbed he even dictated to his wife his last one.

charles-wesley-smallHe wrote “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” at just 33 years old in 1740. There is no known reason for him writing this hymn. Also no one is completely sure if Charles wrote it, it might have been John. The problem is the brothers printed jointly three volumes of their earlier verses 1739, 1740, and 1742. This hymn was on page 67 of the 1740 volume. But  experts on Wesleyan poems agree that the style and manner is like Charles. Also John did not agree with everything Charles wrote. He did not approve of any terms of endearment used in relating to God.

Also there is a firth verse. The original third verse is traditionally omitted, which is a shame because it’s beautiful.

Wilt Thou not regard my call?
Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—
Lo! on Thee I cast my care:
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand,
Dying, and, behold, I live!

Some of Charles’s most famous hymns are:

Arise my soul arise
And Can It Be That I Should Gain?
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing

I designed a printout for you of the hymn including the omitted hymn! And you really need to listen to Indelible Grace’s version on the hymn. It’s free! It’s track 5 on the Beams of Heaven album. And if you like the music, buy the album and support these indie musicians who put so much time and love into this project.

Abide with Me – January Hymn of the Month


A few weeks ago a customer told me that she was going to teach her children the hymn from each month of the hymn calendar. I thought that was just simply amazing! Hymns are slowly fading from our Christian culture and I simply don’t want that to happen. Their words are rich and moving. Frankly I feel that most of contemporary Christian music simply lacks depth and substance. When I made the hymn calendar, I had no idea what kind of response I would have. I was hoping that I’d sell the same amount of calendars that I have in previous years. But if you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know we were constantly SOLD OUT and having to reorder! We’re even out of stock right now and waiting for another shipment from our printer (hoping they come in on Friday). Of course I’m so thankful for sales, but I am most thankful that there are still so many people that still have a love for hymns.

Throughout this year, I want to share each month a brief history of the hymn and the hymn writer from the hymn calendar.

I simply had to use “Abide With Me” for January. It felt so fitting for such a bleak and cold month. Most of this “research” has come from the scholarly website Wikipedia. 😉


Henry Francis Lyte by Stephen Catterson Smith

Henry Francis Lyte was born June 1, 1973, in Ednam, Scotland. He was an Anglican divine (that’s their term for clergy) serving first in Sway, then Brixham, England. . Fun fact: he married Scottish-Irish Anne Maxwell who was seven years older than him. I’m seven years older than Dave! They had two daughters and three sons. His youngest child Farnham Maxwell-Lyte was a chemist and a pioneer in photographic processing.

“Lyte was a tall and “unusually handsome” man, “slightly eccentric but of great personal charm, a man noted for his wit and human understanding, a born poet and an able scholar.” He was an expert flute player and according to his great-grandson always had his flute with him.[16] Lyte spoke Latin, Greek, and French; enjoyed discussing literature; and was knowledgeable about wild flowers.” – Wikipedia article 

He wrote the poem “Abide with me” as he was dying of tuberculosis. He finished it the Sunday, hours before his farewell sermon where he had been serving for years. The next day, he left for Ita­ly to re­gain his health. He didn’t make it, though—he died in Nice, France, three weeks af­ter writ­ing these words. He died November 20, 1847. Here is an ex­cerpt from his fare­well ser­mon:

“O breth­ren, I stand here among you to­day, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to im­press it upon you, and in­duce you to pre­pare for that sol­emn hour which must come to all, by a time­ly ac­quaint­ance with the death of Christ.”

When Hymns Ancient and Modern was published in 1861, the editor, William H. Monk—whose three-year-old daughter had just died—composed his own tune, “Eventide,” for Lyte’s poem. For over a century, the bells of his church at All Saints in Low­er Brix­ham, De­von­shire, have rung out “Abide with Me” daily. The hymn was sung at the wed­ding of King George VI, at the wed­ding of his daugh­ter, the fu­ture Queen Eliz­a­beth II, and at the funeral of Nobel peace prize winner Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1997.

And if you haven’t heard Indelible Grace’s version of Abide with Me, then you need to do it right now. And you are gonna thank me for it. It’s simply divine. I usually tear up every time I hear it. You can listen FREE on their bandcamp site. Here is the direct link to the song sung by Matthew Perryman Jones.

And I did make a print of the hymn that you can purchase here. Or you can always buy a hymn calendar! You’re not too late! It’s just January 14th and we are going to get more in stock!