Words by Cecil F. Alexander (1818-1895)

(Also included in Baptist Hymnal 1991 ed. – #46; variation in The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word, Waco, 1986 – #578.)

The Hymn

  1. All things bright and beautiful, All things great and small,
    All things wise and wonderful, Our Father made them all.
    Each little flower that opens, Each little bird that sings;
    He made their glowing colors, He made their tiny wings.
  2. Cold wind in the winter, Pleasant summer sun,
    Ripe fruits in the garden; He made them every one.
    He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell
    How good is God our Father Who doeth all things well.

Following is the commonly used version of the hymn in hymnals—as noted some of the verses are omitted in one hymnal or another.

Refrain

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

  1. Each little flower that opens,
    Each little bird that sings,
    He made their glowing colors,
    He made their tiny wings.
  2. The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    He made them, high or lowly,
    And ordered their estate. [Most hymnals omit this verse]
  3. The purple headed mountains,
    The river running by,
    The sunset and the morning
    That brightens up the sky.
  4. The cold wind in the winter,
    The pleasant summer sun,
    The ripe fruits in the garden,
    He made them every one.
  5. The tall trees in the greenwood,
    The meadows where we play,
    The rushes by the water,
    To gather every day.
  6. He gave us eyes to see them,
    And lips that we might tell
    How great is God Almighty,
    Who has made all things well. (this version accessed at Cyber Hymnal)

Scriptural Connection

Perhaps the best connection to make for this hymn is to turn to Genesis 1 and 2. In these chapters we find the story of not only beginnings, but the story of Creation—how God made all things. He made the big and the small, the spectacular and the mundane. And it all speaks of Him in return.

What does it mean?

This particular hymn is not nearly so difficult to understand. It is a tribute to the Maker of all things. The second verse encourages the worshiper to witness and then bear witness to the Maker because of all things created. Not only has God created all things, but in this “all things” are included our eyes which behold the things made, and our lips through which the testimony to this great Creator God flows.

I would note that the variations listed above would be evidence of the various hymn tunes used when singing this praise song. This would account for the changing of the word “creatures” to a repetition of the word “things”.  Also of note is the use of four lines (the first four in our Baptist hymnal and the “refrain” from the traditional hymn) as a refrain to be sung between each verse rather than the simple two-stanza song as recorded in the 1956 hymnal. A change in the wording “the Lord God” to “Our Father” is a stylistic one, most likely brought about as a hymn-collector would determine that the original was a bit archaic and austere whereas laying hold of the fatherhood of the Maker might seem a bit more accessible to the worshiper.

Finally, a word about the reason for the omission of the second verse in many hymnals (when referring to the traditional words): One would notice that all the other stanzas refer to Nature in creation and it is not pleasant to think that God had anything to do with who is rich and who is poor, who is of higher estate than another. To avoid this, but still offer God His due praise for creation, we leave out this troublesome verse and sing away.

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.

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