You probably never heard of Folliot Sandford Pierpoint. (With a name like that Obama doesn’t sound strange.) One beautiful spring day in 1864 Folliot was out walking the countryside, admiring the blue sky reflected in the ocean, the ambling AvonRiver with its brilliant array of flowers so striking. He was overwhelmed with what God had created. There in the fields he began to write a poem.

He was a Cambridge graduate, a teacher and minister. But poetry was his long suit. The poem he wrote that day 150 years ago has circled the globe and is known in many lands as one of the finest songs of thanksgiving ever written. This is poetry I can appreciate. Here are five verses of “For the Beauty of Earth.”

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

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise

For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind’s delight

For the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise

For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent child

Friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise

For each perfect gift of Thine to our race so freely giv’n

Graces human and divine, flow’rs of earth and buds of heav’n

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise

Little else is known about Folliot Sandford Pierpoint. Church musicians agree that “For the Beauty of the Earth” is one of the finest hymns ever written giving thanks. Apparently there are only a few songs devoted purely to giving thanks.

The poem/hymn spurs on our having an attitude of gratitude.

In Nazi concentration camps, people like Corrie ten Boom and Viktor Frankle learned to be thankful for the smallest of things. I remember Olive Lawton (held by the Japanese in China during World War II) telling me how precious to find a clean pillowcase; to give thanks for a piece of meat the size of a bean in her soup.

Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that if the constellations appeared only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event it would be. But because they’re there every night, we barely give them a look.

We make religion so complex; Jesus made it simple. He said of the children, enjoy them and be thankful for the life God gives them. That goes for us adults too.

One of the best evidences that God is real in our lives is having an attitude of gratitude. We don’t have to be a poet to learn that.

Britt Towery is a former missionary to China who writes for the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas. He blogs at www.britt-towery.blogspot.com.

Share This