“The Earth and Its Riches”


“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof…” (Ps. 24:1)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which reminds us that the earth and its fullness is the Lord’s is “The Earth and Its Riches.”  The text, which is a paraphrase of Psalm 24, is attributed to Marie J. Post, dated 1982, and said to be first published in the Psalter Hymnal, copyrighted in 1987 by CRC Publications.  However, I am sure that I recall seeing the same, or at least a very similar, rendering before 1982.  The Book of Psalms for Singing was published in 1973 by the Board of Education and Publication of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America of Pittsburgh, PA, and “The Earth and the Riches” taken from Psalm 24 is listed in the index.  A number of these texts were adapted for use with familiar tunes by Edward Fudge (b. 1944) for his Selected Psalms for Church Singing, published in 1974 by C. E. I. Publishing Co. of Athens, AL, and I am thinking that it included this one.  A few of these were then used in the 1986 Hymns for Worship edited by Dane K. Shepard and R. J. Stevens, and the version of Ps. 24 beginning, “The earth, with its riches,” was among them.  The original edition had five stanzas with words only and the suggested tune of “How Firm a Foundation,” and the Revised edition has three stanzas with the “How Firm a Foundation” music printed out.

     Several tunes have been used with “The Earth and Its Riches” besides “How Firm a Foundation.”  The Trinity CyberPsalter suggests one (Greyfriars) composed by S. A. Sterrett Methany.  In addition to this, another website says that the Book of Psalms for Worship also suggests a couple of other tunes, one (To God Be the Glory) composed by William H. Doane and the other (St. George’s Edinburgh) composed by Andrew Mitchell Thomas.  The Complete Book of Psalms for Singing, compiled in 1991 by Rowland S. Ward, uses a tune (Lansing) composed by Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932).  It had been included in the 1912 Psalter, where it was set to a previous version of Psalm 24.  Another tune (Fidelity) that is sometimes used is attributed to J. Ellis, c. 1889, and was found in the Latter-day Saints Psalmody of 1889 with the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” often attributed to Robert Keene.  The Worshipping Church, 1990, has another name (Affection), says that it is by “E. F. Miller, 19th C.,” and uses it as an alternate tune for “My Jesus, I Love Thee” by William R. Featherston.  The Christian Life Hymnal, 2006, has still another name (Boundless Salvation) and uses it for William Booth’s 1893 hymn “O Boundless Salvation.”

     “The Earth and Its Riches” focuses on God as the King of glory and His kingdom.

I. Stanza 1 emphasizes God’s creation

“The earth and its riches with which it is stored,

The world and its dwellers belong to the Lord,

For He on the seas its foundation has laid,

And firm on the waters its pillars has stayed.”

 A. God created the earth: Gen. 1:1

 B. Therefore the world and its dwellers belong to Him: Ps. 89:11

 C. It was He who laid the foundation of the seas: Ps. 95:5

II. Stanza 2 emphasizes God’s demands of us

“O who shall the mount of Jehovah ascend?
Or who in the place of His holiness stand?

The man of pure heart and of hands without stain,

Who has not sworn falsely nor loved what is vain.”

 A. The mount of Jehovah symbolizes His presence, whether spiritually in this life or eternally in heaven: Ps. 15:1

 B. To stand in the place of His holiness symbolizes coming before Him and having fellowship with Him: Ps. 122:1-2

 C. The person who can do this is the one of pure heart, hands without stain, who has not sworn falsely or loved vanity, because this is what the Lord requires: Mic. 6:8

III. Stanza 3 emphasizes God’s blessings for us

“He shall from Jehovah a blessing receive;

The God of salvation shall righteousness give.

Thus looking to Him is a whole blessed race,

All those who, like Jacob, are seeking Your face.”

 A. Those who obey Jehovah, and thus become His people, are the ones who receive His special blessings: Ps. 3:8

 B. One of those blessings is righteousness, that is, the state of being right with the Lord, because their sins are forgiven: Rom. 4:6-8

 C. But these blessings are available only to those who, like Jacob, seek His face: Ps. 27:8

IV. Stanza 4 emphasizes God’s victory
“O gates, lift your heads!  Ageless doors, lift them high!

The great King of glory to enter draws nigh!

O who is the King that in glory draws near?

The Lord, mighty Lord of the battle is here!”

 A. The phrase, “O gates, lift your heads” implies that God’s people must welcome Him as the gates of a city welcome one who comes to it: Ps. 9:14

 B. The one who is drawing nigh is He to whose name is due glory: Ps. 29:2

 C. He is described as the mighty Lord of the battle: Rev. 19:13-16

V. Stanza 5 emphasizes God’s kingship

“O gates, lift your heads!  Ageless doors, lift them high!

The great King of glory to enter draws nigh!

This great King of glory, O who can He be?
Jehovah of hosts!  King of glory is He!”

 A. In like manner, the ageless doors lifting their heads high also symbolizes the idea of welcoming: Zech. 11:1

 B. The one who is being welcomed is the King of glory: Ps. 44:4

 C. This King of glory is Jehovah of hosts: Ps. 83:18 (KJV)

     CONCL.:  Various metrical Psalms have come to us from the Anglo-Genevan Psalters, the Old Version of Sternhold and Hopkins, the New Version of Tate and Brady, the Scottish Paraphrases, and even the writings of Isaac Watts.  There are religious organizations yet today which use the Psalms exclusively in their worship and some that at least specifically seek to include as many as possible.  Thus, newer Psalters have become available, and they have some very welcome additions to our rich heritage of hymnody.  Where else but in the Psalms could we find one of the finest exclamations of praise to God for “The Earth and Its Riches.”


One thought on ““The Earth and Its Riches”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s