God Created Heaven and Earth

Something to listen to while you read…sheet music available at Sheet Music Plus.


In an earlier post I talked about the pentatonic scale and promised I would share a hymn arrangement that uses only the five notes (different octaves) of a pentatonic scale: God Created Heaven and Earth.

In the early 1920s, missionaries to Taiwan paired a text from Amoy, Fujian, province of China, with an adaptation of a traditional Piⁿpo melody, Toa-Sia. That pairing, one of the earliest hymns taught in Taiwan, gave birth to God Created Heaven and Earth. The hymn then came to American hymnals thanks to an English translation by British-born Presbyterian missionaries Boris and Clare Anderson, who promoted Taiwanese music and culture in their missionary work, and a harmonization by renowned Taiwanese ethnomusicologist and composer Loh I-to.

I first stumbled on God Created Heaven and Earth a few years ago in a Lutheran hymnal and, when I heard it, I was struck by the beauty in the stark simplicity of the tune – something I tried to maintain in this piano arrangement by using only pitches from the pentatonic scale, uncluttered rhythms, and a repetitive motive. To add interest, though, I did trade the melody between hands giving them a sort of “conversation” between the two. Enjoy!

God created heaven and earth,
all things perfect brought to birth.