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The history of the hymn ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’

The hymn highlights thankfulness for family, for time, for the earth and for Christ throughout its verses

SHARE The history of the hymn ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’
Motorists drive through colorful fall leaves near Guardsman Pass in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Oct. 14, 2022.

Motorists drive through colorful fall leaves near Guardsman Pass in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Oct. 14, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Unlike Christmas, there aren’t scores of Thanksgiving songs.

One of the more popular Thanksgiving hymns is “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Tagged as a Thanksgiving hymn by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Latter-day Saints and other Christians sometimes sing this hymn during the Thanksgiving season to express gratitude to God for the earth and each other.

The hymn highlights thankfulness for family, for time, for the earth and for Christ throughout its verses.

Folliott S. Pierpoint wrote the text of this hymn in 1864. According to Hymnology Archive, Pierpoint was an Anglican educator and poet who wrote it as a Eucharistic hymn. This means that Pierpoint intended it to be sung in connection with the Anglican sacrament of the Eucharist. The refrain and themes of praise-giving and thankfulness also attest to this. While the lyrics are sung with several tunes, Conrad Kocher wrote one of the most popular variations of the tune.

Hymnary said that Pierpoint wrote the hymn while he wandered around the English countryside. He saw the beauty of the earth and thought about it in relation to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which motivated him to pen the lyrics to this popular hymn. The original refrain of the song was “Christ, our God, to thee we raise; This our sacrifice of praise.” Now the chorus sometimes reads, “Lord of all, to thee we raise / This our hymn of grateful praise.”

One of the more well-known versions of this hymn appeared in the 1994 film “Little Women.” When Meg marries John Brooke, the sisters and family serenade the couple while holding hands in a circle.

Many choirs have performed different versions of the hymn.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, a worldwide choir composed of Latter-day Saints, performed an arrangement of this hymn a decade ago. Mack Wilberg arranged it for the choir and the hymn appears on the album “Consider the Lilies.”

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has performed “For the Beauty of the Earth” on different occasions as well.

The Saint Paul Cathedral Choir also performed this hymn several years ago. St. Paul’s Cathedral is a London-based Anglican cathedral.