For the Beauty of the Earth

afton panaramic

Afton Mountain foggy sunrise

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of 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,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of greatful  praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heaven,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For thy Church which evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

 

Afton Mountain Sunrise

Afton Mountain Sunrise

 

Is it not amazing how one song can mean so many different things? How one song can fit into multiple parts of your life while meaning different things in each of them?

For those of you who are Little Women fans, you will probably remember that this song is playing when Jo is frustrated with herself and years go by and Meg and John Brooks get married in the orchard house. The family is holding hands and singing this song as they circle the newly married couple. It is such a beautiful scene for some many reasons. Weddings are always especially magnetic and emotionally charged. Watching it, I felt like my own sister was getting married. (Obviously Morgan and I watched Little Women so many times that we knew each character by heart.) And what a perfect song for a wedding! A hymn of praise and thankfulness as two lives are being merged into one.

Speaking of weddings, this song was played at our wedding. This is actually the only song that I heard! As communion was being passed around the room and being blessed by the pastor, the violinist and cellist played this song quite gracefully. I remember hearing it and really feeling the magnitude of what was going on. Here I was standing with my spanking new husband while we are surrounded by the people that love us most. The people that we look up to, the people that we lean on as well as lift up. People from the distant past and people from our every day lives. Here we are, standing together, taking communion to honor God in this commitment that we have made to each other. Wow.

Between the Little Women scene and our wedding, I should have spliced in the other meaning attached to this song. Grandaddy. As some of you know, my grandfather is in a nursing home and has Alzheimer’s. He sometimes recognizes us and sometimes doesn’t. This part is the bittersweet part. My Grandmother died right before Christmas ’05. There are so many sad and hard memories accompanying her death, but this song helped me through it. When deciding what hymns should be played at Grandma’s Memorial Service, Grandaddy was unsure of what some of the hymns sounded like (even though he was a chuch-going man all of his life). I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom, Dad, Morgan, and I were in his room trying to help him. Several of my cousins were also milling about and my uncles were trying to make other decisions. Anyway, we sang through the first “round” of a lot of hymns, including this one. A warm feeling rushed over me as I heard my family chiming in with the familiar words. It was that “everything is going to be ok” moment. For that, God, I will be ever thankful.

For me, this song is quite bittersweet. Weddings are bittersweet as are funerals. They are just parts of life. Beautiful parts of life.

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

 

64 East

64 East

 

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