1 For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.
2 For the wonder 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: Refrain
3 For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind's delight,
for the mystic harmony
linking sense to sound and sight: Refrain
4 For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above;
for all gentle thoughts and mild: Refrain
5 For each perfect gift of thine,
peace on earth and joy in heav'n;
for thyself, best gift divine,
to our world so freely giv'n: Refrain
This hymn illustrates two great postures of prayer. The first is to name gifts. Read it slowly or sing it a line at a time. Let the "beauty of the earth" evoke the names of all the creatures that amaze and astound you. Let the "wonder of each hour" call to mind the exquisite rhythm of the day and the beauty of sun and moon alike. Pause to pray for those who taught you the "joy of human love" and those with whom you share "gentle thoughts and mild."
The second great posture of prayer is seeing and serving God in the sharing of God's gifts. God is both in and transcending these gifts; we release them in the surrender of gratitude and the sacrifice of service. It is a Soli Deo Gloria--"to God alone be the glory"--for all the gifts of God and most especially for the gift of God's very self in Jesus.