Something to listen to while you read…sheet music available at Sheet Music Plus.
It was a calm spring day in 1863 when Folliett S. Pierpoint (1835-1917) was exploring the English countryside, drinking in the beauty of God’s creation, and reflecting on the sacrifice of Christ. Inspired, he penned an eight verse hymn text. The following year those verses were published in Lyra Eucharistica, Hymns and Verses on The Holy Communion, Ancient and Modern, with other Poems. At the time Pierpoint’s verses were titled The Sacrifice of Praise but today we know them as For the Beauty of the Earth.
Pierpoint intended the hymn to be sung during Holy Communion in the High Anglican Church using the refrain, “Christ, our God, to thee we raise, this our sacrifice of praise.” However, the refrain was later altered to “Lord of all to you we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise” and the eight verses reduced to only four or five to make it appropriate for a broader range of occasions.
For the Beauty of the Earth is commonly paired with the tune Dix. Based on a chorale written by German composer and organist Conrad Kocher (1786-1872), William H. Monk (1823-1889) created Dix by revising and shortening Kocher’s melody. Monk first published his abridged tune in the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern with the Epiphany text As with Gladness Men of Old. In modern hymnals, you’ll typically find the tune used with the hymn texts As with Gladness Men of Old, For the Beauty of the Earth, Praise to God, Immortal Praise, and God of Mercy, God of Grace.
This piano arrangement of For the Beauty of the Earth is a bit special to me – it was the first hymn arrangement I ever wrote. I created it in the spring of 2009 when I was studying with John Carter and (surprisingly!) that fall Lutheran publishing house Augsburg Fortress agreed to publish it along with eight of my other piano arrangements based on creation-themed hymns. The arrangement is a simple piece but fortunately, for my first try, I don’t find it too cringe-worthy. (Wish I could say that for everything I’ve written! 🙂 ) Enjoy!
For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light.
Lord of all to you we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.