All things bright and beautiful?

Published: 12th July 2019

A vicar in south Staffordshire has updated an old favourite to reflect the realities of global warming.

"I was thinking about all the climate change issues that we've been hearing about and especially the role of young people in leading some of the protests about the problems of environmental destruction and climate change," said Revd Andy McCosh "and I thought 'what might be a good way of getting the message across from the Church's perspective?'"

His answer was to rewrite one of the country's most familiar hymns.

After penning the new lyric, he shared it with a few friends and local schools who have tried it out, and one, St John's Walsall Wood, helped him record it.

"I re-wrote the words of this well-known hymn for use in an environment and creation-focused service of Morning Praise at St Mark's and at the time I decided to forward a copy to our bishops, who felt it was very topical and relevant. The outcome of that is that I have been asked to arrange to record and make a short video. I imagine it is mainly the older children who would be interested and 'get' the message."

The update struck a chord with Diocesan Environment Officer, the Revd Richard Clarkson:"I'm delighted that Andy and his team have produced this song which takes a well known, well loved hymn, a hymn which encapsulates that goodness of God's creation - all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small - and twists it on its head in the tradition of the great prophetic protests to offer a bit of a challenge to us - 'all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, unless we're more responsible we could well lose them all'."

"One of the 'Marks of Christian Mission' that the Anglican Communion has identified is to 'strive to safeguard the integrity of creation' and in the creation story in the Bible, God looks at all that he has made and says that it is 'very good.' But as we look around us at the world today in a time of climate breakdown and of mass extinction we recognise that humans are not doing a very good job of safeguarding that creation that God's given us a task to look after."

Andy said: "I wanted to try and contrast the words that are full of the joy and goodness and beautiful nature of God's creation which is what the original hymn achieves very well and contrast it with our current climate issues - the fact that our trees are being torn down, that our hillsides are bare, that we're getting huge storms that shouldn't really be happening and overall this massive increase in world temperatures and the danger of really serious environmental destruction and losing so many species that actually puts us at risk in terms of our future existence as well."

The complete video of the song with lyrics can be downloaded here.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
Unless we're more responsible
We could well lose them all.


A wind of change is blowing,
The warning bells have rung.
Now acid rain is falling,
And climate change begun.


The tree-denuded mountains;
Polluted river beds;
The plastic in our oceans,
Are things that we should dread.


The storms are getting greater;
The floods grow huge and strong.
We cant leave things till later,
As we dont have that long!


The chopping down of forests;
The sacking of our seas;
The blowing of the tempests,
Will bring us to our knees.


Weve eyes to see injustice,
And lips well use to tell,
If we don't work to stop this,
We could be doomed as well!

Words by Revd Andy McCosh, April 2019.

Alternative words to the hymn All things bright and beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895).

Page last updated: Friday 12th July 2019 8:00 AM
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