‘All things bright and beautiful . . . ‘

Over the last couple of days, I have been working on the music for the YouTube videos I wrote about earlier. Listening to the music has been an uplifting experience, particularly when external circumstances have not been as happy as they could be. I have now chosen a number of pieces for the videos, although there might be more to do once Pui has reported back to me regarding what else she might require.

I went to sleep last night with John Rutter’s arrangement of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small’ ringing in my ears and woke up this morning with the same song on my heart. In fact, as I was doing the washing up after serving breakfast and even whilst doing the rooms, I found myself singing the song over and over again. Rutter has re-worked the tune of this old and well-loved hymn which I have known from childhood into a very lyrical piece of music. If I were to be poetic, I would say that Rutter’s tune flows with joy and explodes with grandeur when he pronounces that ‘the Lord God made them all’!

‘Each little flow’r that opens . . . He made their glowing colours!’ Raindrops on bright pink foxgloves at White Moss Walk, White Moss, Rydal. (Photo courtesy of Tony Richards from www.lakelandcam.co.uk.)

Another piece of Rutter’s music which I love is his re-working of the Gaelic blessing, beginning with ‘Deep peace of the running waves to you’. About 12 years back, I remember speaking with a young man who was very troubled and who could find no inner peace that he might rest in mind and spirit. The benediction that comes with this song is the type of blessing that I wished for him and that I would wish for everyone. It is a peace that echoes what Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ (John 14:27)

Running any type of business requires a clear head as well as the capacity to forge ahead despite difficulties. I am a natural worrier, being the eldest of three children and ever the mother hen! Over the years, and especially more recently, I have learnt to give over my circumstances to the Lord, and to stop worrying about situations over which I have no control. It is not an easy thing for me to do as I always think that I can come up with solutions on my own. Leaning on Christ is not easy: although one must do one’s best, one must also allow Him to work out His good works in and through us. And even more challengingly, one must trust Him to do what He thinks best. I am thinking here of Paul, when he said in 2 Cor. 7-9:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I am in no way of the calibre of Paul, but I do know that the ability to embrace situations both good and bad and to rely on the Lord is probably the best way forward for any Christian. There is a hymn by John Sammis entitled ‘Trust and Obey’, with a refrain that goes, ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way/ To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.’ I can say, hand on heart, that never was there a truer word for the follower of Christ. Trusting and obeying the Lord is a sure fire way to receive that inner peace even when circumstances would seem to dictate otherwise.

So, back to Cecil Alaxander’s 1848 lyrics of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small’. Besides the beautiful words of the refrain, I love the intimate details that make up the verses, the first of which I would like to share with you:

Refrain:

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful:

The Lord God made them all.

First verse:

Each little flow’r that opens,

Each little bird that sings,

He made their glowing colors,

He made their tiny wings.

Don’t you think it is lovely that the writer has made it clear that God is a God of detail? Each little feather in each of the ‘tiny wings’ of these little birds have been lovingly made by Him!

As I sang this song to myself, I suddenly thought of how this hymn really does portray the tremendous landscape, flora and fauna of the Lake District, and, of course, of many other places in the world as well. And I was immensely touched by how much love our great and wonderful God has poured out on His creation that He would stoop to so carefully craft those little birds and all other beings, sentient or not, in this world. It made me want to weep with gratitude.

He made their tiny wings! ‘Tame Robin in Hawkshead village.’ (Photo and quote courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.)

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