I would like nothing more than to go on a stroll through the English countryside, as the writer of this hymn did, and where he found his inspiration. Not possible at the moment.  But, I did walk through a couple of local parks today.  I saw thousands of colourful tulips, a crowd of goslings rushing towards a river, a spectacular magnolia tree in full bloom, squirrels doing their usual dash and many, many blossoms.  I long to see beauty that is new to me, but was reminded that it is everywhere – free for the taking.  It is with us when we celebrate wonderful achievements and events and when we mourn the loss of the things and people that we love.  Find a bit of beauty today and treasure it. Let it fill you with joy and gratitude.

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It is a gloomy day as I write this. The weather is unusually warm, but a bit muggy for my notion of an ideal crisp autumn. And yet, there is such beauty in the contrast of the colours of the changing leaves against the dark, cloudy sky. Somehow this contrast allows for seeing the range of oranges and yellows in a different way than on a sunny day.

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies…

This hymn was written by Folliot Sandford Pierpont as he went for a stroll on a spring day in 1864. He was reportedly inspired by the beauty of the English countryside. What he observed gave rise to a poetic text filled with gratitude, praise and beautiful imagery.

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…

Pierpont speaks so beautifully of what he sees in nature, but doesn’t stop there. He includes a verse with the simple thought of finding joy in our family and friends.

For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child
friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild…

Such lovely sentiments. Deep within them, I see a reminder to find the beauty in the whole range of what we see and experience in both the natural world and in our relationships. Day and night; hill and vale; those who are with us and those already gone. Beauty exists – on a gloomy, or sun filled day.

This our hymn of grateful praise.