Each little flower that opensAuthor: Cecil Frances Alexander (1848)
Tune: ROYAL OAK
Published in 243 hymnals
Printable scores: PDF, MusicXMLAudio files: MIDI
|First Line:||Each little flower that opens|
|Title:||All Things Bright and Beautiful|
|Author:||Cecil Frances Alexander (1848)|
|Meter:||18.104.22.168 with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||All things bright and beautiful|
st. 1 = Matt. 6:28-29
all st. = Gen 1:31, Eccles. 3:11, Neh. 9:6, Ps. 148
Cecil F. Alexander (PHH 346) wrote a number of hymn texts on articles of the Apostles' Creed. This text, whose biblical source is Genesis 1:31 ("and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good"), is Alexander's explanation of the Creed's phrase "Maker of heaven and earth." The text was first published in her Hymns for Little Children (1848) in seven stanzas, one of which was:
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly
And ordered their estate.
In the currently familiar form of this hymn Alexander's original first stanza has been turned into the refrain, and her stanzas 3 and 6 have been omitted.
The vivid images depicting the creedal statement are easily understood by God's children of all ages. It is a catalog text (see also 431 and 433) because it enumerates various creatures God has made: flowers and birds (st. 1); mountains, rivers, daylight, and evening (st. 2); summer, winter, and harvest (st. 4). The final stanza and the refrain teach us that the creation points to and praises the Creator, for "the Lord God made them all." Note that "all" is used four times in the refrain!
As a creation hymn, especially for children but also suitable for adults; with Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 9, as a hymn of confession of faith.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
All things bright and beautiful. Cecil F. Alexander, née Humphreys. [God, our Maker.] A successful and popular hymn for children, on the article of the Creed, "Maker of Heaven and Earth," which appeared in her Hymns for Little Children, 1848, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. It is usually given in an unaltered form, as in Thring's Collection, 1882.
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
This text was written by Cecil F. Alexander as part of her collection of hymn texts on articles of the Apostle’s Creed. This specific hymn is Alexander’s explanation of the phrase, “Maker of heaven and earth.” The text is also based on Genesis 1:31: “And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Her text was first published in 1848 in seven stanzas. The first stanza has since been turned into a refrain, and stanzas three and six are often omitted.
The tune ROYAL OAK is presumably named for a tree at Boscobel, Shropshire, England, in which King Charles II hid during the Battle of Worcester in 1651. In the seventeenth century, the tune was associated with the loyalist song, “The Twenty-Ninth of May,” celebrating the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. In the nineteenth century, Martin F. Shaw arranged the tune as a hymn setting, and it is now commonly associated with Alexander’s text. Use light instrumentation, such as piano, flute, recorder, or guitar.
John Rutter’s 1990 arrangement of the hymn is beautiful for choir, with a melody and accompaniment that fits the text wonderfully. It also is not terribly difficult, and can be accompanied with a variety of instruments, or simply piano.
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
There are a number of difference services in which this hymn would be appropriate. It could be sung during a celebration of God’s creation, as a hymn of response to a reading of the Apostle’s Creed or the first chapter of Genesis, or as an opening hymn of praise throughout the year. Along with a reading of the Apostle’s Creed, this hymn could be paired with the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King,” or “For the Beauty of the Earth.” This is also a great hymn to teach children, due to the repeated refrain and simple melody.
Laura de Jong, Hymnary.org