This hymn was written by Folliott Pierpoint, a classical scholar who lived a rather leisurely life in the lovely town of Bath, England. It is thought that the loveliness of the area inspired Pierpoint to write this hymn. While he wrote other hymns and poetry, it is only for this hymn that we remember him today.
While we would be inclined to classify “For the Beauty of the Earth” as a hymn of thanksgiving or praise, Pierpoint wrote it originally as a Eucharistic hymn. He ended the refrain with these words, which reflect the idea of the Mass as a sacrifice:
Christ our God, to thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.
However, those words were later edited to read:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
And it is these words, rather than the original words, that we find in most hymnals today, including most Catholic hymnals.
The hymn praises God for a host of beauties––things that we encounter in everyday living, but often fail to appreciate––the beauty of the earth and skies, the beauty of each hour, the joy of ear and eye, and the joy of human love. It also expresses thanksgiving for the church––and for Christ.
As we sing this hymn today, let us determine to be more intentional this week about seeing and appreciating the many beauties and joys that God has placed at our disposal.
— Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan