I was a second grader at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim, California. My teacher sat down at the classroom piano and taught us how to sing a song for a school program. I still remember the song she taught us because I have sung it many times since then. It was the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth. I remember singing it often as a child because I thought the lyrics and melody were so beautiful. I can’t remember my second grade teacher’s name, but I remember she taught me that hymn.
As I sit at my desk typing, I am thoughtful. Will a second grade, public school teacher ever be allowed again, to teach their students a beautiful hymn? I looked again at the lyrics before deciding to write this blog post. Here are some of the early seeds my second grade teacher was able to “sow” in my heart:
In second grade I learned to praise God for making a beautiful earth, with glorious skies. I learned that I have been loved by God, from the beginning of time. And I learned to praise him for those blessings.
My teacher taught us that every moment of every day is a gift from God. Every tree, flower, and celestial light was a reminder that God was everywhere. And I learned to praise him for his greatness.
As a child I learned that God had created me with the ability to experience the glory of his creation. And I praised him because he wanted me to enjoy all that he had made.
This hymn taught me that God had created me to love my family and my friends and be loved by them. And this hymn taught me that God spoke to me in my thoughts. And I praised him for being a God who created us for fellowship.
I knew school was important in the second grade, but my teacher taught me that church was important too. Church was the place we went to honor God and praise him.
Most importantly, as a second grader I learned that God so loved the world that he gave us his Son. God gave us everything he could so that we could have peace while on earth, and joy for all eternity. And I learned to praise God for who He is, all He does and for his blessings eternal.
I didn’t fully understand the words of that hymn in second grade. As I look back, I realize that my second grade teacher planted seeds that others would help to nurture and grow. My second grade teacher was an elderly woman in 1966 so I’m sure it is too late to tell her “thank you” for teaching me about the Lord. But one day, in heaven, I will give her a hug and tell her she made a difference in my life.
Second graders don’t get to sing that hymn in public schools anymore, but that doesn’t mean we can’t teach them the great lessons of God’s love. What children come to your mind as you read these words? How will you invest in their lives, teaching them to praise God for the beauty of this earth and every hour? Who can you teach to praise God for the love and joy that is theirs, because of his blessings? Will children think of church as a place to go and give God the praise and honor that is due Him?
God has given us everything. What moments of praise, what sacrifices of our time and what efforts of evangelism will we lay at his feet one day? This, our hymn of grateful praise.