Flow'rs of Earth and Buds of Heav'n

Jeremy Purvis, Ruling Elder

As summer winds down, the weather cools, and the days shorten—we have an opportunity to reflect on the beauty of God’s General Revelation. Sometimes our praise can best be captured in a song, like the famous words by the English poet, Folliott Pierpoint:
 
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.
 
Borrowing ideas from Psalm 19, the hymnist knows that God’s love shines brightly through his creation, permeating the physical world in an unmistakable way. Our focus then narrows to the ground level of the earth, where we live out each moment of our lives:
 
For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.
 
God measures out each day and hour, setting them into motion and sustaining them by his sleepless governance. Pondering this thought, our quiet moment of reflection is interrupted by the sweet sound of approaching friends, family, or neighbors—each person bearing the stamp of God’s image:
 
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 joyful hymn of praise.
 
All of this beauty is like a whisper, a clue, leading us to understand the message with more clarity. What greater purpose is behind this gift of creation? Again, like the Psalmist, Pierpoint’s hymn points us forward, reminding us that every perfect gift comes from above, and that those most special gifts—those saving gifts of mercy and grace—stand out like divine versions of our earthly ones:
 
For each perfect gift of thine
To our race so freely given
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.
 
Listen to John Rutter’s wonderful modern rendition of this hymn here.