Hymn text by Thomas Ken, 1637-1711. View the full text of this hymn.

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It’s literally four phrases long, so let’s just go ahead and listen to all of the words right now:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

There’s only one verse, and even if you sing it at 58 beats per minute (the slowest recommended tempo) and hold out each fermata for three counts, the hymn only lasts about 48 seconds. If you space out for a moment, you could miss it, and that would be a shame, because there’s plenty to consider here.

The exhortation for all creatures above and below to praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is lovely. No one is exempt from the call. All of us here on earth, no matter our situation, no matter who, where, or what we are, are to offer our praise. We can be black or white, male or female, rich or poor, righteous or sinners, but we are all to praise God, our Father and Creator. The heavenly host joins us in singing those praises, and while your mileage may vary on this, I feel that animals, plants, and even the earth itself joins as well. All creation unites in singing praise to its Maker.

And it’s fitting that everything is to offer praise, because it’s for everything that we offer that praise. As we sing, we praise God, from whom “all blessings flow.” He is not the source of some blessings, many blessings, or even most blessings. He is the source of all blessings. There is nothing good but that He has made it. He is the source of the grand blessings we see, such as life-saving miracles, parting of seas, and the moving of mountains, but He is also the source of small mercies, like a call from a friend, a problem solved at work, or even just the gentle reassurance that He is there and aware of you.

That’s difficult for us to comprehend and appreciate sometimes. We often think of miracles and blessings being things that happen to other people. We hear stories of someone’s aunt laying sick in a hospital, dying of some lingering disease, praying and exercising faith that the prophet will come and heal her. And he does come, she is healed, and she says something along the lines of, “I knew the Lord would send you to me.” They’re incredible stories, and they do much to strengthen our faith in general. but sometimes they can leave our faith specific to our own situations wanting. We trust that the prophet can call down the powers of heaven, but will that help us find our car keys when we’re already late? Will it help us when we’re faced with choosing between paying our tithing and paying the electric bill?

When those smaller problems are resolved and the promised blessings come, it’s much easier for us to give the credit elsewhere. If we pray to find our missing keys and then find them buried under a pile of mail, it’s tempting to say something like, “Never mind, Lord! They were right here. I meant to look here, but just hadn’t gotten to it yet.” When we pay our tithing and the electric bill turns out to be a little less than we expected, it’s easy to chalk that up to a miscalculation on our part. “Don’t worry about this one, Lord! It turns out we didn’t need your help, after all.” But those are blessings, small though they may be, and their source is our God, the same as it is with grander, more impressive blessings.

When we open our eyes and ascribe the praise for all blessings to God, we find that there are many, many more blessings in our lives than we ever realized. And as we recognize just how richly blessed we are, we join our voices with “all creatures here below” and the “heav’nly host.” Ours is a generous God, if only we’d stop and take notice of just how willing to bless us He is.

Image credit: “River Stone Water Cold Murmur Roaring Wild,” Pixabay user Hans Braxmeier.

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