As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a colt, some of the Pharisees in the crowd urged Jesus to make his disciples stop singing his praise, but Jesus told them, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40 NIV).
All of creation sings the praise of our Creator, if we only have ears to hear. The awe and wonder we sense when we’re in the middle of a mountain range, standing near a trickling stream, locking eyes with a deer as its ears twitch, or standing in the unique blaze of an evening setting sun is inspired by our Lord, who was there at the beginning, when the very foundations of the world—every photon and neuron and gluon—were being formed.
We can stand in union with the singing of Creation. Our songs of praise and worship have incorporated a theology of creation care for centuries. If you’re looking for ways to connect the Creator with creation, here are some songs that draw our eyes to God’s World to illuminate the love of Christ.
Creation Hymns of Old
Originally by Francis of Assisi, circa 1225, “All Creatures of Our God and King” was translated by William H. Draper and published in 1919. The hymn draws upon two scriptures in particular: “Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them” Psalm 69:34 and “For God is the King of all the earth, sing to him a psalm of praise” Psalm 47:7.
Cecil Frances Alexander wrote this hymn in 1848. The hymn has been adapted into various arrangements, including the lovely version sung by the National Taiwan University Chorus below. I was first acquainted with the words of this hymn through the titles of a series of books by James Herriot. The hymn’s lyrics elaborate on the description of God as “maker of heaven and earth” in the Apostles’ Creed. It may also have been inspired by Psalm 104:24-25:
“How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.”
The first printed version of this hymn by Reginald Heber appeared in 1825, but “Holy, Holy, Holy” wasn’t published until after Heber’s sudden death in 1826. Reginald’s wife published his 57 hymn texts posthumously in 1827. “Holy, Holy, Holy” draws heavily from Isaiah 6:2-4 and Revelation 4:6-11, Revelation 5:13, and Revelation 15:4 to celebrate the great majesty of the triune God.
Folliott Sandford Pierpoint was inspired to write “For the Beauty of the Earth” in 1864 after admiring the view from the top of a hill outside his native city of Bath, England. The hymn celebrates God’s gifts in creation and in the church. Its lyrics echo the words of David in Psalm 8:1, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” The video below features a modern arrangement of this classic hymn.
This very familiar hymn sung by children around the world is an Afro-American Spiritual that was passed down through oral tradition. These beautiful roots are captured perfectly by the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who was known as the “Queen of Gospel Music.” This popular “negro spiritual” echoes the words of Psalm 47 and Psalms 93-99.
Maltbie D. Babcock wrote “This Is My Father’s World” prior to the start of the 20th century. The hymn celebrates the wonder and majesty of creation while not neglecting the reality that all is not right in this world. Despite creation’s brokenness, it all belongs to God. Babcock encourages Christians to listen to the voice of God in creation, see how he restores it, and hear our own calling to be stewards of the earth.
Katherine K. Davis penned this beautiful hymn in the 1920s and published it under the name John Cowley, one of her pseudonyms, in 1939. The hymn draws upon Genesis 1, Job 26:7-14 and Job 38 to echo the praise from all creatures to our God the Creator, joining our praise with the entire universe.
Sing a New Song of Creation
Within the last several decades, new songs of praise have drawn upon the beauty of creation to connect us with the wonders of our God.
Chris Tomlin wrote “Indescribable” in 2004, joining the unique voices of all creation in declaring how indescribable God is. The song draws heavily upon God’s answer to Job. “Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim you are amazing God.”
This praise song by Phil Wickham was released in 2007. The lyrics carry the singer through a world that declares the glory of God, from the light of day to the moonlit night, to the cross and resurrection, to an eternity of restoration.
Stuart Townend, Keith Getty, and Kristyn Getty wrote this modern hymn, “Creation Sings the Father’s Song” in 2009, drawing inspiration from Daniel 4:3,
“How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.”
Hillsong United came out in 2017, capturing the full span of creation, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation. Its refrain, “as You speak,” showcases God’s ongoing breath in creation, from the universal to the particular, expanding and contracting our vision as the artists carry us through the verses.
Climate Vigil Album
In the summer of 2022, The Porter’s Gate Worship Project released a major new album, called Climate Vigil Songs. The songs on the album are meant to be sung in church during worship services, with lyrics derived from Scripture and centuries of Christian theology surrounding creation care. The album features Fernando Ortega, Molly Parden, Jonathen Ogden, Page CXVI, Terrian, Josh Garrels, Paul Zach, Audrey Assad, Jon Guerra, Taylor Leonhardt, Jessica Fox, Matt Maher, Jason Upton, Sara Groves, Liz Vice, and Nick Chambers. The album is available at climatevigil.org/album and on major streaming platforms.
What did we miss? Are there other songs of Creation that help you connect with the Creator and respond in worship to the Lord of the Universe? Pop them in the comments on Instagram or Facebook!