When Francis of Assisi wrote these words just before his death circa 1225 I doubt he ever thought that they would be ignored for 400 years, and only translated into English for a public school songbook in 1919. It is the school assembly where I sang this hymn the most, as did so many. That is why this week I am bringing it out for a guest service at church, my assumption being that even guests will know this from school days?
Above is David Crowder’s version which I rather like, especially the riff that begins and ends each verse. Notice Crowder plays the song in G using capo 7 (to play in D), you need to have a good guitar that is serviced to get away with this, otherwise your tuning will suck!
The song itself is quite focussed on God the creator and praising him because of his ‘general revelation’ in creation (Rom. 1:19-20). There is of course nothing wrong with this, but I would always link this song with a song that draws our hearts and minds to God who has revealed himself ‘specifically’ in Christ and in his Word. I do this simply for the sake of clarity and the sake of the undiscerning congregation member who is looking for God perhaps in the wrong places – a sunset is a reminder of God’s sovereign control, but the Lord Jesus as revealed in the Word and sung in many songs is a clearer more specific reminder of the sovereign God who longs to save his creation through the redeeming work of His Son on the cross.