1. When spring unlocks the flowers
to paint the laughing soil;
When summer’s balmy showers
refresh the mower’s toil;
When winter binds in frosty chains
the fallow and the flood;
In God the earth rejoiceth still
and owns his maker good.
2. The birds that wake the morning
and those that love the shade;
The winds that sweep the mountain
or lull the drowsy glade;
The sun that from his amber bower
rejoiceth on his way,
The moon and stars their master’s name
in silent pomp display.
3. Shall man, the lord of nature,
expectant of the sky,
Shall man alone, unthankful,
his little praise deny?
No; let the year forsake his course,
the seasons cease to be,
Thee, Master, must we always love,
and Savior, honor Thee.
4. The flowers of spring may wither,
the hope of summer fade,
The autumn droop in winter,
the birds forsake the shade;
The winds be lulled, the sun and moon
forget their old decree;
But we, in nature’s latest hour,
O Lord, will cling to Thee!
Reginald Heber was born in 1783 into a wealthy, educated family. He was a bright youth, translating a Latin classic into English verse by the time he was seven, entering Oxford at 17, and winning two awards for his poetry during his time there. After his graduation he became rector of his father's church in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury in the west of England where he remained for 16 years. He was appointed Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and worked tirelessly for three years until the weather and travel took its toll on his health and he died of a stroke. Most of his 57 hymns, which include "Holy, Holy, Holy," are still in use today.
-- Greg Scheer, 1995… Go to person page >
When spring unlocks the flowers. Bishop B. Heber. [Spring.] First published in the Christian Observer, 1816, p. 27, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines, headed "Spring," and signed "R." In Heber's posthumous Hymns, &c, 1827, p. 98, it was repeated, after revision by himself, in 4 stanzas of 4 double lines, and appointed, without any apparent reason, for the 7th Sunday after Trinity. The text in common use is that of 1827.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)