For the Beauty of the Earth

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"For the Beauty of the Earth" is a Christian hymn by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917).

Pierpoint was 29 at the time he wrote this hymn; he was mesmerised by the beauty of the countryside that surrounded him. It first appeared in 1864 in a book of Eucharistic Hymns and Poems entitled "Lyra Eucharistica, Hymns and Verses on The Holy Communion, Ancient and Modern, with other Poems."[1] It was written as a Eucharistic hymn - hence the title of "The Sacrifice of Praise", the refrain "Christ, our God, to Thee we raise, This, our sacrifice of praise", and as is seen throughout the original text of 1864, especially the last two lines which had replaced the Refrain in verse 8. This is how it appears in the 'English Hymnal' of 1933,[2] with the two exceptions, that Pierpoint's last two lines which had replaced the Refrain after verse 8, were omitted and the Refrain sung instead, and the first two words of the last line in verse two "sinking sense", in common with all other hymnbooks was modified to "linking sense".[3] The text was more radically modified by the publishers of "Hymns Ancient and Modern" for the 1916 Hymnbook,[4] so it could serve as a general hymn.

The tune most widely used for this hymn is the same tune used for William Chatterton Dix's “As with Gladness, Men of Old,” a Christmas carol composed five years prior but not released publicly until three years after Pierpont. (Although the tune is known traditionally as “Dix” in deference to William Dix, it was originally composed by Conrad Kocher in 1838.) Other tunes used are: "Warden" by James Turle (1802-1882) - as appeared in the 1916 Hymns A&M Standard, and "England’s Lane" by Geoffrey Turton Shaw (1879–1943) as it appeared in the English Hymnal.

Hymn text[edit]

Original text of 1864:
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.
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.
For the joy of ear and eye,
   For the heart and brain's delight,
For the mystic harmony
   Sinking sense to sound and sight:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.[5]

Settings[edit]

English composer John Rutter's composition for SATB, SA, or TTBB choir with piano/organ or orchestra accompaniment is a widely performed choral setting of this text. Other settings include those by Geoffrey Shaw[6] and Philip Stopford.

Along with such hymns as "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come" and "We Gather Together", this is a hymn that is often sung during the Thanksgiving holiday period in many churches in America.

This hymn was sung in the 1994 Columbia Pictures version of Little Women.

It is performed on the Thomas Kinkade 2000 album Music of Light.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shipley, MA. The Rev'd Orby, "Lyra Eucharistica, Hymns and Verses on The Holy Communion, Ancient and Modern, with other Poems" Second Edition, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts and Green, London 1864, Pages 340 - 342. Details given in an unpublished MS on Hymns and their origins by The Reverend Dr Michael Foster, Rector of Tarrant Hinton, Dorset, England, accessed 17th June 2013
  2. ^ Oxford University Press, Hymn No 309 (and in the 1906 English Hymnal)
  3. ^ Details from an unpublished MS on Hymns and their origins by The Reverend Dr Michael Foster, Rector of Tarrant Hinton, Dorset, England, accessed 17th June 2013
  4. ^ The Proprietors of Hymns A&M, William Clowes and Sons Limited, London, Standard Edition, Hymn no 663
  5. ^ Orby Shipley (1864). Lyra eucharistica: hymns and verses on the holy communion, ed. by O. Shipley. p. 342. 
  6. ^ For the beauty of the earth at hymnswithoutwords.com, accessed 10 July 2009