04 August 2010

The Earth Adorned

At the risk of being mistaken as a Scandanavian (a risk I'm happy to take, by the way), this week's hymn again comes from the lands to the north. This time from Sweden (just to be fair). Denmark may well be next, but I'm not sure I have one from Finland or Lapland!

But first, these words from Warren Wiersbe: "In my early years as a Christian, I was often upset when I attended a service where 'creation hymns' were sung. 'The important thing is the cross!' I would argue. 'Let the liberals sing about the birds and flowers!' How wrong I was! I did not realize then as I do now that the God of creation and the God of salvation are the same God, and that these must not be divorced from each other." (Real Worship, p. 53. Pastor Wiersbe's book on worship explores the topic through the four songs in the Revelation. I am glad to see it is still in print!)

I have found this insight very helpful as a worship planner. It has reconciled me to the inner stanzas of "Fairest Lord Jesus," for example. (Though to be complete, that hymn requires its usually-omitted 4th stanza.) It has also helped me look at and consider the entire hymn text of "creation hymns." Do they end with creation itself, or point to the Creator? Of course, that is the crux of the matter (pun intended).

And so, to today's hymn, "The Earth Adorned (Psalm of Summer)" by Waldemar Ahlen.

The earth adorned in verdant robe
sends praises upward surging,
while soft winds breathe on fragrant flowers
from winter now emerging.
The sunshine bright gives warmth and light
to budding blossoms tender,
proclaiming summer splendor.
    From out the wood, the birds now sing
    and each its song now raises,
    to join with all the universe
    in voicing thankful praises.
    With hope and joy their songs employ
    a rapturous exultation
    in praise of God's creation.
O God, amid these joys of life,
creation's glory beaming,
grant us the grace to keep your word
and live in love redeeming.
All flesh is grass, the flowers fade,
and time is fleeting ever;
God's word remains forever.
Waldeman Ahlen (trans. Carolyn and Kenneth Jennings)
(c) 1934/1974 Walton Music Corporation

Note how the text admires and respects the natural order. And how it turns our admiraion to "a rapturous exultation in praise of God's creation" - that is, from the creation to its Creator. And then in a very biblical turn, and without undoing this proper wonder in the face of natural beauty, it points us to what is truly everlasting. All flesh is grass, the flowers fade, time is fleeting - but the word of our God abides forever. Here is a proper and deep Christian "creation hymn." And an apt one for this time of year!

Sing on!


  1. Your blog caught my eye this morning because you refer to "Fairest Lord Jesus, and the often omitted fourth stanza. I like it because it personalizes the hymn. And here it is:

    All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
    Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
    None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
    Than Thou, my Saviour, art to me.

  2. Yes, thank you Robert! Do you know the "St. Olaf" setting of Beautiful Savior? We have taken to use this "missing stanza" as the solo verse in that anthem. And we also sing this stanza in our communion services.
    And thank you for visiting! I follow and admire your "Wordwise Hymns," This is a good reminder for me to add that to my links!