June 4, 2013

Heavens and Earth, All of Creation (Revised)

In my last post, I indicated that my replacement text for “Earth and All Stars” was probably not in its final form. As a result of personal reflection and helpful feedback from readers, I am now ready to offer a revised (and, I hope, improved) version of “Heavens and Earth, All of Creation.”

I must first say that I continue to be amazed by the intense emotions evoked by “Earth and All Stars,” particularly since the text is light on theology. Many people either love or hate this hymn, and I have heard from members of both group. (I am more perplexed by the devotees, though.)

In my own replacement text, “Heavens and Earth, All of Creation,” I identified several problems. I was happy with neither the third nor the fourth verses:

Flowers and grains, pine woods and oak trees,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Apples and pears, berries and sweet peas,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him singing along!

Shrew, fox, and snake, bird, fish, and rabbit,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Nest, den, and hole that they inhabit,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him singing along!

To begin with, “oak trees”/“sweet peas” is not a perfect rhyme. Moreover, “sweet peas” seems to lack, well, gravity.

I received several objections to verse 4. I was told that my choice of “shrew” was odd, as shrews are not often cited when people are asked to name animals. (Wikipedia, however, does report that there are 385 species of shrew in 26 genera.) The rhyme of “rabbit” and “inhabit” wasn’t too popular, either. I think “rabbit” is the problem here; Bugs Bunny somehow makes it hard to take rabbits seriously. I myself had qualms about the image of a hole singing, which seems no more logical than the “loud sounding wisdom” of the Brokering text.

Although I was particularly fond of the last verse, I was unhappy with the phrase “fathers and moms,” since the nouns exhibit different degrees of formality. Achieving greater parallelism here seemed impossible, however, since there are only four syllables to work with. I decided, however, that “mothers and dads” seems more natural than “fathers and moms,” so I decided to make that substitution.

It took a good deal of experimentation, but I finally wrote replacements for the problematic verses. I also decided that the final line needed another comma. The revised text, then, is the following:

Heavens and Earth, All of Creation

Heavens and earth, all of creation,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
All living things, join the elation,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him, singing along!

Valley and hill, river and ocean,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Pond, lake, and sea, water in motion,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him, singing along!

Flowers and trees, cacti and hedges,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Acres of grain, scrub brush on ledges,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him, singing along!

Creatures that swim, fly, crawl, or gallop,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Fish, bird, and snake, horse, shrimp, and scallop,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him, singing along!

Nations and tribes, drawn from all races,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Cities and towns, differing faces,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him, singing along!

Young ones and old, blissful or mourning,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Mothers and dads, babies aborning,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
He has done marvelous things.
I, too, will praise him, singing along!

Unfortunately, the third verse seems to echo “My Favorite Things,” but I do think it an improvement. I like the parallelism in the fourth verse, though not everyone may appreciate the “gallop”/“scallop” rhyme. I also believe that the meaning of the last line is greatly clarified by the final comma.

So, do you think my hymn is ready for prime time?

Update, 6/5/2013: I think the time for second thoughts on this hymn text is past, so I've installed it on my Web site. You can find it here, unchanged from what is shown above. 


Earth from space

3 comments:

  1. I rather like your version. I have always thought the tune deserved better than the hymnal gave it.

    Are you licensing it for worship?

    FWIW
    jimB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’d certainly like a parish to try it out. Unfortunately, I don’t have a score yet.

      Delete
  2. I used to teach children's choirs and we performed the original, which I think the youngsters understood. But I love your last version of the hymn. Nicely done! Hymns allow for every opportunity to express belief / doctrine in beautiful / creative language. As a lover of hymns since my childhood, I admire yours. A new tune would certainly be welcome.

    ReplyDelete

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