For the beauty of the earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

This hymn by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1835-1917) first appeared in Orby Shipley's Lyra Eucharistica (1864) as a hymn for Holy Communion entitled 'The Sacrifice of Praise', with eight verses. In the refrain, 'Lord of all, to Thee we raise' (Hymns Ancient and Modern all editions, and New English Hymnal) was originally 'Christ our God, to Thee we raise' (English Hymnal, BBC Hymn Book). The refrain echoes part of the post-communion prayer of the Book of Common Prayer (1662) 'O Lord and heavenly Father, we thy humble servants entirely desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving'. The change in words was made to reflect the theological criticism that our Lord was Son of God. The original eight verses are now reduced to five or six, the deleted verses being considered too Catholic for use in an Anglican hymnal. In the current last verse, 'For thy Church which evermore ...' has replaced the original 'For thy Bride that evermore ...'. Biblical references include: Psalm 116:17, Psalm 148:3,9, Ecclesiastes 3:11 and James 1:17. Pierpoint was a classics schoolmaster and a devout Tractarian. He was born in Bath and educated at Queen's College Cambridge. He taught at Somersetshire College, spending most of his life in Bath and the south-west. This is his only hymn in current use.


There are three common tunes associated with this hymn. The Ancient and Modern tradition uses Dix (more commonly associated with As with gladness men of old.). Another tune is England's Lane, adapted from a traditional English melody, and popularised in Songs of Praise. The tune Lucerna Laudoniae was composed for this hymn by David Evans (1874-1948). Although not as well known as England's Lane, it is a more sensitive setting. The name means 'Lantern of the Lothians' referring to either a Franciscan monastery at Haddington, East Lothian (destroyed in 1355) or to the fifteenth-century church which replaced it.

Nigel Day
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997