The eternal beauty of an original Eucharistic hymn
The German teacher, founder of The School for Sacred Song in Stuttgart Conrad Kocher composed the music for “For The Beauty Of The Earth” in 1838. Kocher’s musical influences include Mozart and Haydn and he was sent for musical studies to Italy by the Cotta music publishing firm where he added Palestrina as a musical influence. Upon his return to Germany, he immediately set up The School for Sacred Song and institutionalized four-part singing in the churches. Which is how “For The Beauty Of The Earth” came to be a perfect hymn for congregation and choral performance, backed up by a gentle performance by instruments. The blissful sound reminds one of the hopeful vibe of the planting season, as well as the glory of God’s creations like the mountains, seas, and forests. The natural beauty that surrounds us is perfectly “framed” in this melody in G Major by Kocher.
The lyrics were penned by the English poet Folliett Sandford Pierpoint in Spring, while he was 29 years old. But apart from the fact he was driven by the beauty of his surroundings, Pierpoint wrote it as a Eucharistic hymn for the Anglican Church service. Pierpoint’s original title was “The Sacrifice of Praise” and the hymn was made up of eight, four-line stanzas meant for the lifting of the host during Communion. It appeared on the Lyra Eucharistic Hymnal (1864). This is Pierpoint’s most frequently-performed hymn and it seems it’s set to remain in use for many more years to come.
Thanksgiving services in many churches in America perform “For the Beauty of the Earth” along with “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” and “We Gather Together”. Even the popular movie “Little Women” (1994) contained a scene wherein this hymn was being sung. Thomas Kinkade recorded his performance of the song in his album Music of Light. BarlowGirl recorded a cover version and tweaked some of its lyrics for its digital release in 2006.