“The world is firmly established, it shall never be moved.” Psalm 96 is a short prayer of praise to the God of Creation, the God of the Universe. It is a humble and glorious hymn recognizing the greatness of God through all of his creation. It has an ecstatic quality to it. A quality of joy.
“Sing to the Lord a new song, Sing to the Lord all the earth…” (verse 1) This song overflows with the graceful realization of faith. It arises out of the experience of a God who has shown His concern is for all of his creation with both tenderness and might. In this prayer we too are moved to awe out of the humble recognition of the greatness of God. We are moved to bow before him, to bring him gifts of thanksgiving. In praying this psalm we join our own experiences of God’s salvation and mercy with that of the psalmist, and we are moved to sing out his praise.
His is the earth and all that is in it, especially we who are his children. He has made it firm, not to be moved. What he has made he has done so with purpose, the purpose of love. In that loving purpose his creation finds its meaning. The joy in this prayer comes from the recognition of God’s handiwork, revealed in and through every good, true, and beautiful element of his creation. This God is the Master Craftsman, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, who remains faithful to his creation at all times. His concern is with it at all times. The sun, the moon, and the stars, are his. But even more humbling than this is the knowledge that we are his beloved children.
The psalmist’s joy, and ours, arises from the recognition that the earth, and all that is in it, finds its source and its sustenance in this loving God. God made us and gave us intelligence with which we can come to know Him and his works. It is this that fills us with joyful awe. All the rest of nature gives praise to God simply by being, but we who have been given a mind and a soul, we can sing the praises of God from our knowledge of him. St. Francis of Assisi’s famous Canticle of the Sun prayer poem echoes psalm 96, singing in the same humble, joyous tones this praise of the God of Creation. “Most high, all powerful, all good Lord. All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings./To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your Name./Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day through whom You give us light…Sister Moon and stars…Brothers wind and air… Sister water, and brother Fire…Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks, And serve him with great humility.”
Lord, open the eyes of our hearts to see you in and through all of your creation. As Francis of Assisi’s heart was moved, just as the ancient Jewish writers hearts were moved, to praise You in all of your creation, by Your grace, let our hearts be so moved, so that we, too, may sing Your praises at all times. Blessed be God in all of his designs. Blessed be our faithful and loving Lord forever and ever. Amen! and Amen!
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