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April 22, 2005

44R True Stewards, Earth

Original Title: "Thou, Earth, Art Ours, and Ours to Keep," Mary Howitt, GASTORIUS,, adapted from Severus Gastorius (1681); New Title: "True Stewards, Earth" rev. REH (2007), SUSSEX CAROL,, Traditional English melody, arranged by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1919). Mary Howitt was an English Quaker and poet, who wrote extensively on nature themes. Perhaps her best-known poem is "The Spider and the Fly." Here the lyrics clearly echo Genesis: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good," Genesis 1:11-22; see also Genesis 1:29, Genesis 8:22, Genesis 27:28. In the Christian scriptures, seed and harvest are sometimes metaphors for the God's word, e.g., Luke 8:11, Matthew 13:3, 32, John 12:24, see also Luke 13:6-9 (the parable of the fig treet). That the earth is "ours" is echoed in the Psalms, e.g., Psalm 115:16; the likeness of "darkness and light" in Psalm 139:12; God gives grain/corn in Psalm 65:9. Trees and wind are mentioned specifically in Isaiah 7:2; the first and latter rain in Deuteronomy 11:14. The hymn appears in neither Singing the Living Tradition nor The New Century Hymnal.


1. True stew-ards, earth, we are for thee,
who in faith la-bor in thy reign;
the green-ing grass, the corn, the tree,
spring-time and har-vest come from thee,
the ear-ly and the lat-ter rain,
the ear-ly and the lat-ter rain.

2. O earth, the earth, thy sum-mer-time,
fresh with the dews, the sun-shine bright,
with gold-en clouds in eve-ning hours,
with sing-ing birds and fra-grant flowers,
crea-tures of beau-ty and de-light,
crea-tures of beau-ty and de-light.

3. Thou, earth, our earth, when light is dim,
and leaf-less stands the state-ly tree,
when from the north the fierce winds blow,
when fall-eth fast the mant-ling snow.
O earth, thou speak-est still to me,
O earth, thou speak-est still to me.

4. The earth is yours and mine, all life!
Ours is all worlds, all suns that shine,
sha-dow and light, and life and death,
what-e'er all space in-ha-bi-teth:
Life's im-age bears the true di-vine,
Life's im-age bears the true di-vine.

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Downloads must be redone

Posted by rehurst at April 22, 2005 10:47 PM

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