“God, Who Made the Earth”

GOD, WHO MADE THE EARTH

“He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7)

     INTRO.:  A hymn that reminds us that the same God who created the world and all things in it cares for us is “God, Who Made the Earth.”  The text was written by Sarah Betts Bradshaw Rhodes, who was born on Apr. 23, 1829, at Sheffield in Yorkshire, England.  The wife of a master silversmith in Sheffield, she was a sculptress and hymn writer. Upon her husband’s death, she became head of the Worksop Girl’s School.  This hymn was written in 1870 for the Sunday School Union Whitsuntide Festival in Sheffield.  Mrs. Rhodes died on Nov. 21, 1904 at Wakefield in Yorkshire, England.  Several tunes have been used with the hymn.   The traditional one (Sommerlied) was composed by Hermann von Müller (1859-?).  This is the one used in the 1961 Trinity Hymnal edited by Robert S. Marsden.  An alternate one (Beechwood) was composed by Josiah Booth (1852-1929).   A new one (Caldwell Church) was composed in 1965 for Hope Publishing Co. by David W. Smart (b. 1927).  It is the one used in the 1974 Hymns of the Living Church edited by Donald P. Hustad. 

     Still another one (Whelpton) that can be used, with a little adjustment, was composed by George Whelpton, who was born at Redbourne, England, in 1847.  Immigrating to the United States with his family in 1851, he enlisted in the Union army at the age of sixteen and served as an assistant pharmacist during the Civil War.   After being educated at the Lake Chautauqua School of Music, he was a popular choir director in Buffalo, NY, for some twenty years.  According to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook, he created a prayer response that is derived from Psalm 143:1, “O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy,” with the final phrase, “grant us thy peace,” taken from the conclusion of the ancient liturgical text Agnus Dei, and provided this tune for it.   Taken together, these two phrases constitute an urgent petition for the Lord God to hear our prayers and a confession of certainty that he will do so.   

     It is generally assumed that Whelpton himself chose these textual phrases when he produced this melody for them in 1897.  The prayer chorus was first published in leaflet form and later appeared in the 1924 Hymns for American Youth, compiled by H. Augustine Smith.  Moving to New York City in 1903, Whelpton become an editor for the Century Publishing Company.  Among his editorial projects were Hymns of Worship and Service and The Church Hymnal.  Next, he joined the editorial staff of the A. Barnes Publishing Company in 1916 and served there until his retirement in 1925.  His death occurred at Oxford, OH, in 1930.  It makes a fitting doxology for the Rhodes hymn, which some more recent books try to “update” by changing “Careth for me” to “He cares for me.”  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use among churches of Christ, the tune with the prayer response appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.

     The hymn encourages us to trust in the Lord because of His power demonstrated in creation.

I. Stanza 1 reminds us that God created the universe

“God, who made the earth,

The air, the sky, the sea,

Who gave the light its birth,

He careth for me.”

 A. God made the earth: Gen. 1:1

 B. He made the air, sky (firmament), and sea (waters): Gen. 1:6-7

 C. He made the light: Gen. 1:3-4

II. Stanza 2 reminds us that God created all things on earth

“God, who made the grass,

The flower, the fruit, the tree,

The day and night to pass,

He careth for me.”

 A. God made the grass: Gen. 1:11

 B. He made the flower, the fruit, and the tree after its kind: GGeh. 1:12

 C. He made the day and night: Gen. 1:14

III. Stanza 3 reminds us that God created all things in the heavens

“God, who made the sun,

The moon, the stars, is He

Who, when life’s clouds come on,

He careth for me.”

 A. He made the sun: Gen. 1:16

 B. He made the moon and the stars also to give light and rule over the night: Gen. 1:17-18

 C. Because He cared enough for mankind to provide these things, we can know that He cares for us when life’s clouds, representing life’s tribulations, come on: 2 Cor. 1:3-4

IV. Stanza 4 reminds us that God created all things everywhere

“God, who made all things,

On earth, in air, in sea,

Who changing seasons brings,

He careth for me.”

 A. God made all things: Heb. 11:3

 B. He made everything on earth, in the air, and in the sea: Exo. 20:11

 C. It is He who brings the changing seasons: Gen. 8:22

V. Stanza 5 reminds us that God sent His Son to die for our sins

“God who sent His Son,

To die on Calvary,

Who if I lean on Him,

He will care for me.”

 A. God sent His Son for us: Jn. 3:16

 B. The Son came to die on Calvary for our sins: Rom. 5:8

 C. He wants us to lean on Him, that is, trust Him and go to His throne for help in time of need: Heb. 4:14-16

VI. Stanza 6 reminds us that God wants us to go to heaven

“When in Heaven’s bright land

I all His loved ones see,

I’ll sing with that blest band,

‘My God cared for me.’”

 A. The Bible speaks of heaven’s bright land: Matt. 8:11

 B. There we shall be reunited with all His loved ones: 1 Thess. 4:16-17

 C. Then we shall join with those who sing of His great love around the throne: Rev. 5:8-14

     CONCL.:  The prayer response, which can be sung after the final stanza, reminds us that because God does care for us, we can look to Him to hear our prayers.

“Hear Our Prayer, O Lord;

Yes, hear our prayer, O Lord;

Incline Thine ear to us,

And grant us Thy peace.”

We know that God wants to hear and answer the prayers of His children because He loves us enough to have sent His Son to die on the cross.  And we know that He is able to hear and answer our prayers because He is the “God, Who Made the Earth.”

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