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June 2022 - O Praise the Lord, Who Made All Beauty

More than forty years ago, I attended a worship service in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a college student. In this worship service was a children’s choir from an area church, and they sang a beautiful anthem that I have remembered ever since:

             O praise the Lord, who made all beauty,

            Whose gifts of the senses we enjoy.

            O may we live each day in constant wonder,

            To see all of life in simple pleasure.

            O praise the Lord, who made all beauty

            Sing laude, laudeamus te.

The anthem itself was composed by Hal H. Hopson and is based on a French carol. There is a lilting melody that fits the text perfectly, calling us to remember that our creating God “has made everything beautiful its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

As we head into the summer season, we see the beauty of God’s glorious creation all around us. In truth, the beauty of what the Lord God has created is always there, but summer brings this out in full measure. As we travel near and far over the summer months (even with record high gas prices!), we find beauty at the ocean shore and consider the vastness of the sea that stretches out before us, teeming with all kinds of life. The sound of the waves crashing against the beach, the smell of the salt water – these are soothing to the soul. We also find beauty in the mountains, whether the Appalachians, Great Smokies, Adirondacks, Rockies, or other places that show us the handiwork of the Master Artist. The rugged terrain of the mountains with its trees and hidden valleys causes us to stand in awe and wonder.

There are so many places in the world around us that testify to the Lord, who made all beauty. That beauty can be seen in our own backyard where plants and trees, birds and animals, insects and unseen microscopic forms of life, all containing the miracle of life, are witnesses to the Lord God who created them. Just sitting outside on a summer evening as day gives way to night (don’t forget the bug spray!), the words of the psalmist ring true in our ears: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,  the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). Though the psalmist wrote these words thousands of years ago, they are just as true today as when they were first written. When we consider the vastness and complexity of the world around us, both on a macro as well as a micro level, we begin to understand that this is not some happenstance accident that caused all of this to come together in such a beautiful tapestry of life. No, something far deeper and truer is at work here. We cannot but help to do what the words of that children’s choir anthem said, namely, to “praise the Lord, who made all beauty.”

In the midst of daily life with all of its ups and downs, its demands and challenges, we long for those spaces apart at ocean’s shore or mountain’s height. We long for space and time to breathe deeply, and so rediscover the wonder, beauty, and joy of God’s gift of life. We all need these times away to recharge our batteries; to step away from the everyday routines that at times make us feel boxed in. Without such time away, we become sluggish and weary; we feel depleted. The vibrant colors of life become muted and dull in us. I pray that you will have such time away over the course of this summer so that you can be renewed and refreshed in body, mind, and spirit. And even if a big trip is not in the works for you this summer, please do seek out some space “to see all of life in simple pleasure,” as that children’s choir anthem puts it. That space might be as close as your back porch or deck.

In praising the Lord who made all beauty, we are led to the realization that all of life becomes worship. No longer limited to an hour or so each week on Sunday morning, each and every day – each and every moment! – becomes an opportunity to give thanks and praise to our creating God.

Wishing you a summer filled with constant wonder that you may see all of life in simple pleasure. O praise the Lord who has indeed made all beauty!