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Worshipping God the Creator: the Creation invites us to join in praise

Lynne Baab • Thursday June 9 2016

Worshipping God the Creator: the Creation invites us to join in praise

I wrote last week about how the Creation calls us to praise the One who made it. This has been a theme in Christian singing for centuries. In this post I will give you the words to two hymns that speak of Creation’s praise of God and our invitation to join in.

In 1912 Frances W. Wile wrote a winter hymn, appropriate for us in New Zealand right now, but perhaps not as timely for my Northern Hemisphere readers. The words are wonderful whatever season it is:

All beautiful the march of days, as seasons come and go;
The Hand that shaped the rose hath wrought the crystal of the snow;
Hath sent the hoary frost of Heav’n, the flowing waters sealed,
And laid a silent loveliness on hill and wood and field.

O’er white expanses sparkling pure the radiant morns unfold;
The solemn splendors of the night burn brighter than the cold;
Life mounts in every throbbing vein, love deepens round the hearth,
And clearer sounds the angel hymn, “Good will to men on earth.”

O Thou from Whose unfathomed law the year in beauty flows,
Thyself the vision passing by in crystal and in rose,
Day unto day doth utter speech, and night to night proclaim,
In ever changing words of light, the wonder of Thy Name.

In the second verse Wile evokes the angel hymn to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, which reflects the experience that I mentioned in the post last week. Nature helps me to put my own struggles in perspective and experience God’s peace and goodness. In the last verse, Wile quotes from Psalm 19:2 and then says that nature proclaims God’s name “in ever changing words of light.” What a call to praise!

“All beautiful the March of Days” is usually sung to a traditional English tune, Forest Green, arranged by Ralph Vaughn Williams. You can listen to it here

Another well known hymn from the same time period invites us to join with the Creation as it praises God. Rev. Mathbie D. Babcock these words in 1901:

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

In the second verse, again we see that creation praises God, and the implication is that we are invited to join in: “The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.” This hymn, like the first one, talks about creation communicating to us: “to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.” I love Babcock's words, "He speaks to me everywhere." So many people hear God more clearly out in nature than anywhere else.

The concluding verse has always helped me reaffirm that evil will not triumph and that God is still working, even when all I am experiencing is pain. God will have the last word. This is an interesting parallel to the angel’s words at Jesus’ birth, mentioned in the previous hymn, because nature so often gives us the peace and perspective to cope with the sorrow and sadness in our own lives.

“This is my Father’s World” has three more verses that you can find here, and you can listen to the tune here.

I’ll close this post with Psalm 95: 5-7, which mirrors these two hymns and makes a seamless transition from the fact that the creation is made by God to the relational truth that God is our shepherd:

The sea is his, for he made it,
   and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O come, let us worship and bow down,
   let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
   and we are the people of his pasture,
   and the sheep of his hand.

(Next week: The Bible and Creation. Illustration: Queenstown winter day by Dave Baab. Those of you who are Lord of the Rings fans will enjoy the fact that the hillside in the background of Dave’s painting was the setting for a scene in one of the movies. If you'd like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under "subscribe" in the right hand column.)

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