For the Beauty of the Earth

for the beauty of the earthThere is probably no more archetypal Thanksgiving Day song than this. It should easily be the quintessential Earth Day song as well.

It’s a song every child probably knows by hear. As such, it deserves a simple, childlike, reverent simplicity. That’s what I’m shootintg for her with organ flute stops and a woodwind quartet.

To sing along, here’s a link to a representative text of four verses:



All Creatures of Our God and King

cathedral windowThe title in the New Century Hymnal is To You, O god, All Creatures Sing, #17. It has 6 verses. The only representative texts I could find only have only have 5, so when/if you sing along, and I hope you do, you’ll have to improvise that final verse!

The descant I use on verse 4 is the one given in the NCH. I don’t mind using my own descants, but I also like to use given ones because they become favorite, personal pleasures of soprano and tenor members of the congregation…so why deprive them of their guilty pleasures–indulge, indulge!

In verse 6 I put the tune in the pedals and inverted the counterpoint in the hands. The harmonization of this magnificent tune, is of course, by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

Wakantanka Taku Nitawa (Many and Great, O God, Are Your Works)

MinnesotaThis morning’s Earth Day hymn is this famous Native American hymn. #3 in the New Century Hymnal, both verses are given in the original Dakota language as well as in an English translation. gives just the English translation.

The NCH suggests the 4 quarter note drum throughout. I debated using that since I don’t want to err in the direction of tasteless cultural approbation any more than I already have by using this hymn. But…it seemed to work if done very softly and it gives a sense of forward motion.

The footnotes in the NCH give Joseph Renville, 1842, as having adapted the tune and James Murry, 1877, as having provided the harmonization. Renville helped establish the Lac qui Parle mission in Minnesota and Frazier, a Native American, was a Congregational minister.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week, and the coming Corona Sabbath, is Earth Week at Lakewood UCC. So in celebration there’ll be a daily hymn about the beauties of creation. There can’t be any hymn more arch-typical of the topic than this first one, All Things Bright and Beautiful, the melody of which is ROYAL OAK, a traditional English Melody, adapted by Martin Shaw, 1915. That link gives 5 verses plus the refrain, but I’ve stuck with the 3 versus and refrain of the New Century Hymnal.

Precious Memories

Precious MemoriesThis is another one of those hymns that ought to be in every hymnal but isn’t. It’s in only one, a magnificent hymnal: the African American Heritage Hymnal. I recommend it very, very highly. It should be on every church musician’s bookshelf.

Can’t give the words because of copyright, but I can tell you that the text is built on John 14:18 — I will not leave you orphaned. I am coming to you.

Here it is featuring piano but with some traditional B3 organ and cheezy strings. Absolutely love that “N” in Magnolia. That’s the Magnolia Cemetery in Hurley Mississippi. It used to be the Jones cemetery (our family cemetery and in fact most of the graves–everyone in town???–are relatives).