Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth. – Psalm 96:11-13
The wild and staggering beauty of nature renders me speechless some days. How can we take in the changing seasons and the fruit of each one and not wonder at a creator? How could all of nature work itself out in such amazing ways without a Master Designer? I love all the seasons of the year, but Fall is my favorite. There is so much to savor, with all our senses. For many years we lived in places where there was no noticeable Fall season. Still, the glory of oceans, deserts, and mountains left us satisfied.
Now that we are back in the US, I consider Fall a great gift to sooth the missing of those other places in my heart. Places where stands of cherry and almond trees in the Spring look snowy with pink and white blossoms. Places where olive orchards are tucked into mountain valleys. Places where wheat fields, golden in the sun, are punctuated by poppies, all swaying in the warm wind. These places always gave me pause – soaking up all before me, with worship in my heart.
Our journey now has taken us to Richmond, Virginia. Here, we are at the end of Fall. Some have told me that the colors this year haven’t been as spectacular as years before. I couldn’t say, because I am bedazzled by what we’ve experienced over the last several weeks.
Our neighborhood was built in an old forest. The hardwood trees stand tall and majestic. Right now, even at the end of Fall, the leaves are glorious in all kinds of shades and hues. Even as they turn to brown, I can’t get enough of it.
It’s sunny and warm for a November day, as I write, and an old hymn has come to mind. For the Beauty of the Earth (Pierpont & Kocher, 1864). This is sung especially at Thanksgiving or harvest time. For me, it takes me back to my childhood church where we sang out of the Baptist Hymnal. It reminds me of Fall even though the composer’s focus was really on raising up praise to God for all the good we have in our lives(especially the gift of Himself through Jesus).
This is Fall’s gift to me – nature’s testament of the glorious, creative, generous nature of God. When the leaves are all down, and the trees are bare, then Winter will come with its own witness of the Lord.
Worship with me – with the help of the Canadian band Eli Eli and a lovely acoustic arrangement of this old hymn.
For the Beauty of the Earth
For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,*
This our hymn of grateful praise.
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.
For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.
For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.
For thyself, best Gift Divine,
To the world so freely given,
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth, and joy in heaven.
*Originally, Christ our God, to Thee we raise
Photo Credit of pic just above – Alicia Bowman