In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Once again it's time to pause and reflect on the multitude of blessings that our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us, and on all the things we have to be thankful for. Among mine: a God who knows and loves me; a Savior willing to die for me; a country worth giving my life for; my sweet wife Melany and our beautiful children (and new grandson Liam!); my wonderful parents and the love and wise counsel they blessed me with growing up (and still do today); my awesome siblings and their delightful spouses and children; reasonably good health; a steady (if trying) job; a decent home; a nice community and good neighbors; and a beautiful area in which to live. Who could ask for more? I'm blessed so far beyond what I deserve that I want to fall on my knees in gratitude every time I think about it. It's hard not to believe in a loving, merciful God when one is blessed so much. I only pray that my faith will endure when and as I lose some of these things, as will probably happen--hopefully only a little at a time--in future years. But I'll NEVER forget how much I've been given, even if only for a while. Praise our God for it!

Another thing I'm thankful for is the joy of music. Few things moves me so, or make me so happy--especially sacred music. Another of my favorite hymns, and one widely heard and sung around Thanksgiving time, is For the Beauty of the Earth, written in 1864 by English hymnist and poet Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917). It is related that Pierpoint was taking a walk one late spring day, in the lovely area surrounding his home in Bath, England. Overwhelmed with the beauty he saw, he sat down and wrote For the Beauty of the Earth. In this lovely hymn Pierpoint thanks God not only for His beautiful creation, but also for family, friends and other gifts God has bestowed upon us. The hymn was sung in the 1994 movie version of Little Women.

Here is a lovely video and choral rendition of this sweet hymn. The video scenes are of places and people in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada; I love it because it celebrates not only the beauty of nature, but also "the joy of human love,/Brother, sister, parent, child"--my favorite lines from the hymn! The full text of the hymn, which includes several stanzas in addition to those sung in the video, is set forth below.

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful 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.


For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.


For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.


For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.


For the martyrs’ crown of light,
For Thy prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold confessors’ might,
For the lips of infancy.


For Thy virgins’ robes of snow,
For Thy maiden mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
Jesu, Victim undefiled.

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.



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