"O LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH AND SEA"
"Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17)
INTRO.: A hymn which praises God for doing good, giving us rain and fruitful seasons, and filling us with food and gladness is "O Lord of Heaven and Earth and Sea." The text was written by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885). It was probably produced in 1862 and was first published with nine stanzas in the third edition of his work The Holy Year or Hymns for Sundays and Holy Days of 1863. It was originally intended to accompany "Charitable Collections." Wordsworth was an Anglican minister, nephew of famous English poet William Wordsworth, and a noted hymn writer in his day. His best known hymn is probably "O Day of Rest and Gladness," which has appeared in a few of our books, and another of his hymns, "Greatest of All," was used in one.
The tune (Almsgiving) produced for this text and most commonly used with it was composed by John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876). It first appeared in the 1865 musical edition to The Holy Year. Sometimes the date of 1875 is given, but that may be when it was first published in a general congregational hymnbook. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1922 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson. Today it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann with a 1692 tune (Meyer or Es Ist Kein Tag) attributed to Johann David Meyer; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat (both of the latter with the Dykes tune).
The song identifies several different areas of God’s blessings for which we can thank and praise Him.
I. Stanza 1 talks about God’s gifts on earth
"O Lord of heaven and earth and sea, To Thee all praise and glory be;
How shall we show our love to Thee, Who givest all?"
A. God created the heaven and earth and sea: Gen. 1:1-2
B. Therefore, we should give Him praise for His works: Ps. 145:4-10
C. While we cannot fully and completely show our love to Him for these things, we do show how much we love Him by keeping His commandments: 1 Jn. 5:3
II. Stanza 2 talks about God’s gifts of nature
"The golden sunshine, vernal air, Sweet flowers and fruits Thy love declare;
Where harvests ripen, Thou art there, Who givest all!"
A. God created the sunshine and the firmament which includes the atmosphere of air around the earth: Gen. 1:6-8, 14-18
B. He also created the sweet flowers and fruits from the grass, herbs, and trees: Gen. 1:11-12
C. By means of these things, He makes it possible for us to have seedtime and harvest: Gen. 8:22
III. Stanza 3 talks about God’s gifts of society
"For peaceful homes, and healthful days, For all the blessings earth displays,
We owe Thee thankfulness and praise, Who givest all!"
A. God himself established the home as the basic unit of society: Gen. 2:13, 24
B. Indeed, every good and perfect gift or blessing on earth comes from God: Jas. 1:17
C. Therefore, we owe Him thanksfulness: 1 Thess. 5:18
IV. Stanza 4 talks about God’s gift of His Son
"Thou didst not spare Thine only Son, But gavest Him for a world undone,
And freely, with that blessed One, Thou givest all!"
A. In addition to the gifts of this life, God gave His only Son: Jn. 3:16
B. He gave Him for a world undone to die for our sins: 1 Cor. 15:1-3
C. He also gave that "blessed One," the Holy Spirit who revealed the truth of all that God has done for us: Jn. 14:26, 16:13
V. Stanza 5 talks about God’s gift of redemption
"For souls redeemed, for sins forgiven, For means of grace and hope of heaven,
O Lord, what can to Thee be given, Who givest all?"
A. Because God gave us His only Son, we can have redemption and forgiveness of sins: Eph. 1:7
B. In this way, we can be saved by grace: Eph. 2:8-9
C. And for this reason, we can have the hope of heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
VI. Stanza 6 talks about God’s gifts to each one of us individually
"Whatever, Lord, we lend to Thee, Repaid a thousand-fold will be;
Then gladly will we give to Thee, Who givest all!"
A. In return for all the gifts that He has given us, He wants us to lend back to Him: 1 Cor. 16:1-2
B. What we thus lend to Him will be repayed to us: Prov. 19:17
C. Therefore, we should give gladly: 2 Cor. 9:6-7
CONCL.: The omitted stanzas are as follows:
5. "Thou givest the Spirit’s blessed dower, Spirit of life and love and power,
And dost His seven-fold graces shower Upon us all."
7. We lose what on ourselves we spend; We have, as treasure without end,
Whatever, Lord, to Thee we lend, Who givest all."
9. "To Thee, from whom we all derive Our life, our gifts, our power to give;
O may we ever with Thee live, Who givest all."
While the song reminds us of all the wonderful blessings that God has given us, it also tells us that we should be not only takers of God’s gifts but in turn givers unto others as well. We should be more motivated to do this as we bow down thankfully before the giver of all blessings and say to Him, "O Lord of Heaven and Earth and Sea."