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All Things Bright and Beautiful: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Tuesday, January 7, 2020 by Becky Cerling Powers, poem by Cecil Frances Alexander

Maybe Cecil Frances hid her poetry under the carpet because she thought her father would disapprove. She was a timid nine-year old girl in Ireland in 1827, and her father Major John Humphreys of the Royal Marines was a stern man.

A gift discovered

But her father saw the bulge in the rug in the back room of their house. When he investigated, he found his daughter’s poems, and something about them must have touched him. Perhaps, he thought, his little girl had talent. So he sent the poems to his friend John Keble, who was a clergyman and a poet. Keble wrote back. Young Fanny, as the family called her, was a gifted writer, he said. She should be encouraged.

A gift encouraged

So Fanny’s father enlisted the family in encouraging the little girl. The next Saturday he called the family together and read Fanny’s poems out loud. Then he showed the family a box with a slot in the top. Whenever Fanny finished writing a poem, he explained, she should put the poem into the slot. Then when the family came together the next Saturday, she would read the poem. The family encouraged her with helpful remarks.

A gift shared

When Fanny grew up, she married and became well known as a writer of hymns. One day Fanny was sitting next to a sick child trying to explain The Apostle’s Creed, which begins “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth...” The child couldn’t understand the way the creed was phrased, so Fanny wrote poems to put into simple words the meaning of the Creed. Here is one of the poems she wrote:

All things bright and beautiful

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

 

Each little flower that opens,

Each little bird that sings,

He made their glowing colors,

He made their tiny wings.

 

The purple-headed mountain,

The river running by,

The sunset, and the morning,

That brighten up the sky;

 

The cold wind in the winter,

The pleasant summer sun

The ripe fruits in the garden,

He made them every one.

 

The tall trees in the greenwood,

The meadows where we play,

The rushes by the water

We gather every day;

 

He gave us eyes to see them,

And lips that we might tell

How great is God Almighty

Who has made all things well.

 

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

 

© 2019 Becky Cerling Powers - Story

Poem in the public domain

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