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 – 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.

2015 Hymn Calendar


I’m so happy to share with you the 2015 calendar! It’s 12 months of some of my favorite hymns! I always seem to run really behind on starting on my calendar. I just sent it to the printer a week ago and got a proof today from my printer. I’m so happy with the color and quality. You can preorder the calendar on etsy for $18 with free U.S. shipping. The calendars will ship by November 1st. I’m also running a special – buy two calendars, get one teeeny print free!

I think the hardest thing on this project was deciding on which hymns to pick. SO here are the  hymns that I picked for the calendar.

january through junejulythrudec

Here are the backs of the each month – filled with bright colorful patterns that are perfect for you to reuse once 2015 is over.


I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to preorder. I thought I might get 10 preorders, and I’m still shocked at the number of orders that have been placed. I had to bump up my order from my printer! And I’m thinking about doing another hymn calendar for 2016, because there are a still a lot of hymns that I need to draw. I will also be turning a lot of these hymns into art prints before Christmas so be sure to be on the lookout for that!

BUT I still need YOUR help getting the word out! If you are a fan of hymns, would you share with your friends and family? Or let me know a Christian blog that might be interested in the calendar! I would normally submit my calendar to a few design blogs, but I honestly don’t know if I’ll get the press because it’s Christian content.