Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Top Ten Hymns Countdown #10: All Creatures of Our God and King

The words to this great hymn were written by Francis of Assisi around 1225, shortly before his death. The tune, titled Lasst Uns Erfreuen, first appeared in a German book around 1623.

Despite the impressive age of this hymn, it was not found in an English hymn book until 1919, after it was translated by William Draper. Ralph Williams added harmony to the German tune in 1906. Therefore, in the English language, it is not very old at all.

The words, however, are timeless. All creatures...lift up your voice and with us sing! Alleluia! The poetic descriptions of universal elements (wind, water, fire), astronomical bodies (sun, moon, earth), and even death itself lifting their praise to God remind us that indeed, as the final verse of the last Psalm says:

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (Ps. 150:6)
Furthermore, the praise of God is not limited to the animate: Even the stones are capable of praising God (Luke 19:40). The heavens themselves declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1).

The words coupled with the soul-stirring tune make this a majestic, praising, reverential hymn. It reminds us of Psalm 69:34:
Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.
Take time to meditate upon the words below.

All Creatures of Our God and King

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!


O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!


Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.


Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.


And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!


And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.


Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!


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