435. All Things Bright and Beautiful

Refrain:
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful
the Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings
he made their glowing colors,
he made their tiny wings. Refrain

2 The purple-headed mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset, and the morning
that brightens up the sky. Refrain

3 The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden
he made them every one. Refrain

4 He gave us eyes to see them,
and lips that we might tell
how great is God Almighty,
who has made all things well. Refrain

Text Information
First Line: Each little flower that opens
Title: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: Cecil F. Alexander (1848)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 76 76 with refrain
Scripture: Nehemiah 9:6; Genesis 1:31; Psalm 148; Matthew 6:28-29; Genesis 1; Genesis 2:4
Topic: Songs for Children: Hymns; Creation and Providence
Language: English
Refrain First Line: All things bright and beautiful
Tune Information
Name: ROYAL OAK
Harmonizer: John Worst (1974, alt,)
Meter: 76 76 with refrain
Key: G Major
Source: The Dancing Master, 1686
Copyright: Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 6:28-29
all st. = Gen 1:31, Eccles. 3:11, Neh. 9:6, Ps. 148

Cecil F. Alexander (PHH 346) wrote a number of hymn texts on articles of the Apostles' Creed. This text, whose biblical source is Genesis 1:31 ("and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good"), is Alexander's explanation of the Creed's phrase "Maker of heaven and earth." The text was first published in her Hymns for Little Children (1848) in seven stanzas, one of which was:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly
And ordered their estate.

In the currently familiar form of this hymn Alexander's original first stanza has been turned into the refrain, and her stanzas 3 and 6 have been omitted.

The vivid images depicting the creedal statement are easily understood by God's children of all ages. It is a catalog text (see also 431 and 433) because it enumerates various creatures God has made: flowers and birds (st. 1); mountains, rivers, daylight, and evening (st. 2); summer, winter, and harvest (st. 4). The final stanza and the refrain teach us that the creation points to and praises the Creator, for "the Lord God made them all." Note that "all" is used four times in the refrain!

Liturgical Use:
As a creation hymn, especially for children but also suitable for adults; with Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 9, as a hymn of confession of faith.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ROYAL OAK is presumably named for a tree at Boscobel, Shropshire, England, in which King Charles II hid during the Battle of Worcester, 1651. A folk song that may well be older than the seventeenth century, ROYAL OAK was associated in the 1600s with the loyalist song "The Twenty-Ninth of May," a song that celebrated the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II on May 29, 1660. Originally found in The Dancing Master (1686), the tune was arranged as a hymn setting by Martin F. Shaw and published in his Song Time (1915). ROYAL OAK is usually associated with the Alexander text in modern hymnals.

John Worst (b. Grand Rapids, MI, 1940) prepared the harmonization, first published in the Psalter Hymnal Supplement in 1974. Worst is a composer as well as professor of music at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, a position he has held since 1966. Previously he taught at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, and the University of Michigan. Educated at Calvin College, Ohio State University, and the University of Michigan (Ph.D.), Worst was an editor of Songs of Rejoicing: Hymns for Worship, Meditation and Praise (1989). He was also one of the contributors to Youth, Electronic Media, and Popular Art and the arranger of the Hymn of the Month, sets 1-4, for Christian Schools International.

This light, bright, and energetic tune is well suited to the colorful text. It requires unison singing throughout, although with a few simple changes the refrain could be sung in parts. Use light accompaniment. Try accompanying with guitars, flutes, or recorders, or use just three-part texture on the organ for the stanzas and four-part texture on the refrain. This is a great children's hymn–be sure to have them sing a stanza or two by themselves and then have the congregation join in on the refrain.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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