All Creatures of Our God and King Hymn

All Creatures of Our God and King - Introduction of The Hymn of the Week

This is The Hymn of the Week with Dr. Larry Frazier—presenting the good news in song, combining faith and everyday experience. With a 13th-century Italian text by a great Christian saint from Umbria in central Italy, translated by a 20th-century English clergyman and a 17th-century tune from Germany, harmonized by one of the most famous composers of the 20th century, this week’s hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King, reaches out to include all people of faith.

It expresses appreciation for the beauty of the earth and its life-sustaining natural resources; encouragement to treat others with kindness in a spirit of love and forgiveness; and a spirit of humble confidence and thankfulness in a loving God—Father and Friend—who is worthy of worship and praise.

Click below for the All Creatures of Our God and King Lyrics

All Creatures of Our God and King Lyrics by Faith Music Connection

All Creatures of Our God and King: Hymn of the Week Radio Show Episode

Reading of All Creatures of Our God and King Lyrics

All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing, Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
Refrain—O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong, Ye clouds that sail in heaven along, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice, Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
Refrain—O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear, Make music for thy Lord to hear, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou fire so masterful and bright, That givest man both warmth and light.
Refrain—O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day Unfoldest blessings on our way, O praise Him! Alleluia! The flowers and fruits that in thee grow, Let them His glory show,
Refrain—O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart, Forgiving others, take your part, O Sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care!
Refrain—O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And thou most kind and gentle Death, Waiting to hush our latest breath, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou leadest home the child of God, And Christ our Lord the way hath trod,
Refrain—O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless, And worship Him in humbleness, O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
Refrain—O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Background of the All Creatures of our God and King Hymn

St. Francis of Assisi wrote Cantico di frate sole (Hymn of Brother Sun) shortly before his death in 1226. This poem, considered to be the first literary work written in Italian, is a statement of faith and values lived by this great Christian saint. Born into a family of wealth and privilege, with handsome features and easy manner, Francis was a favorite among the elite, enjoying a life of luxury and ease.

Francis' Conversion

An encounter with a lowly beggar and revelations received in dreams following serious illness brought about a complete change in his life. He sought to live like Jesus Christ, embracing poverty and sharing the love of God for everyone—especially, the most disadvantaged—and an appreciation for all of God’s creation, including animals and nature as well as other people. His conversion was sincere and genuine, and he attracted many followers during his lifetime. So profound was Francis’ influence that even today, Franciscans throughout the world continue to seek to show the love of Jesus Christ through embracing vows of poverty and serving others in a spirit of kindness and humility.

Draper Translates Francis' Poem into English

William H. Draper, an Anglican priest, translated Francis’ poem into English for use at a children’s Whitsuntide (or Pentecost) festival in Leeds, England; the resulting "All Creatures of our God and King" first appeared in the Public School Hymn Book, in 1919.

Background of the Tune 

The tune, Lasst Uns Erfreuen (Let Us Rejoice), was composed by Peter von Brachel, in 1623. It first appeared in a collection of hymns published in Cologne, Germany, entitled Ausserlesene Catholische Geistliche Kirchengesäng (Catholic Church Songs), where it was combined with an Easter text also entitled, Let Us Rejoice.

Following the litany-like pattern of the verses of the text, the lines of the tune are continually interspersed with exhortations of praise—O Praise Him! Alleluia! Bold statements of faith in each stanza of poetry are underscored by their settings in repeated pairs of vocal lines beginning on high pitches, which may be effectively sung in unison, in contrast with the refrain-like praise! and alleluia! exclamations sung in four-part harmony.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

The music emphasizes the general impression of a sweeping, over-arching sense of mystic understanding combined with a passionate depth of empathy, appreciation and respect for all creation as demonstrated throughout the life of the author. Ironically, the popularity of this tune was greatly increased by Ralph Vaughan Williams, one of the most famous composers of the 20th century, who considered himself a life-long church musician, when he, as editor, harmonized and included it, paired with another hymn, Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones, in The English Hymnal, published in 1906.

Distinction of Hymn and Tune

It should be noted that the term, hymn, by definition, refers to a literary composition—the words—which may be sung to any tune in a compatible meter. It was not until 1919, in the Public School Hymnbook, edited by the English organist and church musician, Geoffrey Shaw, almost seven centuries after the death of St. Francis and three centuries after the composition of the tune, that “All Creatures of Our God and King” was first published paired with “Lasst Uns Erfreuen,” the beautiful melding of hymn and tune that we are considering in this week’s program.

Devotion or Scripture Related to Hymn

Among numerous allusions to scripture from both Old and New Testaments, perhaps none is in closer harmony to the spirit of "All Creatures of Our God and King" than is this passage from Psalm 145, verses 10-21: “All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.  

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds. The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.”

Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Hymn of the Week. Tune in again next week when we will consider another great hymn.

Until then, this is your host, Dr. Larry Frazier…

Goodbye and Keep Singing!

About the Author Larry Frazier

Larry spent 24 years teaching music at the University of West Georgia to over 6,000 students. Ten years ago, Larry and his wife Mary Lynn, received comfort, support and inspiration from traditional Christian hymns while she overcame stage-three colon cancer. Larry is on a mission to help you discover God’s incredible power through the intersection of faith and Christian music in your life.