"LET THE WHOLE CREATION CRY"
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude….saying, Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" (Rev. 19:6)
INTRO.: A hymn that is filled with commitment to praise the Lord is "Let the Whole Creation Cry." The text was written by Stopford Augustus Brooke, who was born on Nov. 14, 1832, at Glendoen, Letterkenney, in Donegal, Ireland. Educated at Kingstown in Kidder minster, he attended Trinity College where he won the Downes Prize and the Vice Chancellor’s prize for English verse, graduating with a B. A. in 1856 and an M. A. in 1858. Becoming an Anglican minister, he served at St. Matthews in Marylebone from 1857 to 1859 and then at St. Mary Abbots in Kensington from 1860 to 1863. After working as chaplain to the British Embassy in Berlin, Germany, from 1863 to 1865, he was minister at St. James Chapel, York St. in London from 1866 to 1875, and was appointed as Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen in 1872. Some of his written works include the Life and Letters of the Late F. W. Robertson in 1865, Theology in the English Poets in 1874, and Primer of English Literature in 1876.
In 1876, Brooke leased Bedford Chapel, where he continued to preach until his retirement in 1894. Withdrawing from the Church of England in 1880, he became an independent because of his liberal views, but although he had Unitarian leanings he never joined any denomination. In 1881, he prepared Christian Hymns for use in the congregation, and it included this hymn entitled "Invitation to Praise God" originally in ten four-line stanzas, loosely based on Psalm 148. His later works include Poems in 1888 and A Treasury of Irish Poetry in the English Tongue around 1900, and his death occurred on Mar. 18, 1916 at The Four Winds, Ewhurst, in Surrey, England. He refused to copyright his hymns, saying, "They are free, as I think all hymns ought to be, for the use of anyone who may care for them." A couple of melodies have been used with this one. The traditional tune (Salzburg) dates from 1678, is attributed to Jacob Hintze, and was harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach. It requires the stanzas to be combined into eight-line stanzas.
Most modern books set the song to an 1817 Welsh tune (Llanfair) composed by Robert Williams and arranged by John Roberts. It is a wonderful melody but the vast majority of books use it with the anonymous Latin hymn "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today." However, I like the "Alleluia"s, which are not used with the Hintze melody, so I provided my own tune (Shakamak) in imitation of Welsh hymn melodies. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the text is found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann with the Hintze tune; and in the 1998 Hymn Supplement published by The Columbia Hymn Association Supplement, the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R. J. Stevens et. al, and the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement from Guardian of Truth Foundation edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al., all three with the Williams tune.
The song calls upon all of God’s creation to praise God and sing "Alleluia!" to Him.
I. Stanza 2 is addressed to heaven and earth
"Let the whole creation cry: Alleluia!
‘Glory to the Lord on high!’ Alleluia!
Heaven and earth, awake and sing: Alleluia!
‘God is good and therefore King!’ Alleluia!"
A. The whole creation includes everything in the physical universe because made it all: Exo. 20:11
B. The whole creation should give God the glory: Ps. 29:1-2
C. Heaven and earth should awake and sing because God created them: Gen. 1:1. Evidently editors have felt the need to do a lot of tinkering with this song. For the last line, one book reads, "Praise to our almighty King," another reads, "God is God and therefore King," and still another reads, "God is good and reigns supreme."
II. Stanza 2 is addressed to the heavenly hosts both spiritual and physical
"Praise Him, all ye hosts above: Alleluia!
Ever bright and fair in love: Alleluia!
Sun and moon, uplift your voice: Alleluia!
Night and stars, in God rejoice! Alleluia!"
A. The heavenly hosts are told to praise the Lord: Ps. 103:20-21
B. The sun and moon are also told to lift up their voice: Ps. 148:3-4
C. Even the night and stars are told to join in declaring God’s glory: Ps. 19:1-3. Again, tinkering has occurred. In the first line, one book reads, "Praise Him, angel hosts above," and another reads, "Praise God, heavenly hosts above." Many books change "uplift" in the third line to "lift up."
III. Stanza 3 is addressed to God’s people
"Warriors fighting for the Lord: Alleluia!
Prophets burning with His word: Alleluia!
Those to whom the arts belong: Alleluia!
Add their voices to the song: Alleluia!"
A. All Christians are to be soldiers or warriors of Christ: Eph. 6:10-13 (books have changed this to "Christians fighting" or even to "Rulers bowing to")
B. There are no longer prophets today, those who are directly guided by the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s word to mankind, but all Christians are to be teachers: Heb. 5:12
C. "The arts" here may refer to more than just things like painting, sculpture, music, and poetry, but to anything made by "artisans," and since all able Christians are to work at some trade, they should glorify God even in their work: Col. 3:22-24 (more tinkering–some books have the last line read, "Join the rushing of the song")
IV. Stanza 4 is addressed to those in civil authority
"Kings of knowledge and of law: Alleluia!
To the glorious circle draw: Alleluia!
All who work and all who wait: Alleluia!
Sing, ‘The Lord is good and great!’ Alleluia!"
A. While it is true that not many do or have done so, even kings and other rulers should praise the Lord: Ps. 148:11 (some books read simply, "Those of knowledge and of law")
B. They should to His glorious circle draw rather than setting themselves against the Lord: Ps. 2:1-3
C. Indeed, all who work and all who wait in the civil affairs of this life should acknowledge God: Dan. 4:36-37
V. Stanza 5 is addressed to all of mankind
"Men and women, young and old: Alleluia!
Raise the anthem manifold: Alleluia!
And let children’s happy hearts: Alleluia!
In this worship bear their parts: Alleluia!"
A. Both men and women are encouraged to praise God, just as the Lord promised to pour out of His Spirit on both male and female: Joel 2:28-29
B. Both young and old are encouraged to praise God: Ps. 148:12
C. Even children are encouraged to praise God: Ps. 8:2 (again, more tinkering; in the second line, one book reads, "Raise the anthem loud and bold;" in the third line, some books read "Children, with your happy hearts;" and in the last line one book reads, "take their parts," while others read, "sing your parts.")
VI. Stanza 6 is addressed to the entire world
"From the north to southern pole: Alleluia!
Let the mighty chorus roll: Alleluia!
‘Holy, holy, holy One: Alleluia!
Glory be to God alone!’ Alleluia!"
A. The entire world from north to south should praise God: Ps. 89:11-12
B. The entire world should sing "Holy, Holy, Holy": Isa. 6:3
C. The entire world should give glory to God alone: 1 Pet. 3:10-11
CONCL.: Both the 1998 Hymn Supplement from The Columbia Hymn Association and the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement say of this hymn that it "calls for praise to God from all sources. This hymn depicts all created things, all heavenly beings, and all people singing praise to the Lord (Psa. 148:1-14, Rev. 19:1-6)." Truly, as our own hearts are filled with praise for all that God has done for us, we should declare to the entire world in singing alleluia, "Let the Whole Creation Cry."