Hymn for the day graphic

02 Day by day without a word – Pratt

Andrew Pratt (1948 - )
© 1995 Stainer & Bell Ltd. and the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes
Andrew Pratt

At a very young age I remember cereal packets having pictures of the constellations on the back. So I guess my very amateur enthusiasm for astronomy is rooted in my time in primary school. I’ve owned a telescope, various binoculars and from time to time attempted photos.

I am filled with wonder at the beauty of creation, and it was a view of a sunset over the mountains of Snowdonia, seen across the Menai Straits that brought me to faith. I was filled with wonder – and still am.

If ever I need prompting in my faith it is not to the Bible or the cross that I turn first, but to that sense of complete and utter awe at the complexity and beauty of creation. At the time of that first realisation, in my early twenties, I had gained a degree in zoology and was working for a Masters. I was knocked sideways. I could answer scientific questions, and those that were beyond me could be furnished by others, but the ecstasy engendered by this scene was beyond my comprehension and I just found myself, uncharacteristically, uttering, ‘Thank you!’ and realising that I was speaking to something other, to God, if you will. My first proper prayer.

At that time I did not know the Psalm which sets the theme of this short song that I want to share with you, these words:

Psalm 19: 1 – 6

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat. (New Revised Standard Version)

I sense that the Psalmist experienced that same emotional check that brought me up short in my rational pursuit of answers and explanations. But there is more to this than simply that memory. When things are shaken, as the world has been in these months of this year, stepping outside the door under much clearer skies that we’ve had for years, has taken me back and reminded me of something of the reliability of creation. And this in the middle of what has sometimes felt like random, threatening chaos. Day by day, night by night, season by season, though our very humanity has been shaken to its core, there is something inherently reliable in the cosmos of which we are a part. And it is glorious:

Day by day without a word
The sky declares God's glory!
The sun, the moon and all the stars
So quietly tell the story.
May the thoughts and words I say,
Please you, God, as much today.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) based on Psalm 19
© Copyright 1995 Stainer & Bell Ltd and The Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (UK)
Used by permission of Stainer & Bell Ltd, 23 Gruneisen Road, London N3 1DZ, www.stainer.co.uk

 And so I bid that we pray:

For all the beauty of this world, set in a galaxy riding through the cosmos, we thank you, O God.

And in the chaos which surrounds us, we put our trust in the fact that you have put your trust in us, coming as Christ, born among us, yet enfolding us in love.

May the thoughts we share and the words we say, please you O God.

Speak again to us through creation, even in silence, and may we hear you for our comfort and inspiration. Amen.

And let us hear and then perhaps sing together. This single, simple stanza is repeated…the tune is by June Baker.

Original Recording from Big Blue Planet, featuring The New London Children’s Choir and Francis Holland Junior Choir:
© Copyright 1995 Stainer & Bell Ltd and The Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (UK)
Used by permission of Stainer & Bell Ltd, 23 Gruneisen Road, London N3 1DZ, www.stainer.co.uk

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