O Beautiful for Spacious Skies

Rev. Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian Church of Sebastian

WeLoveFirst.org & Facebook.com/welovefirstsebastian

Rev Jeff Wood



The great hymn we are going to look at today, a day in a holiday weekend, is   What I like most about “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” is something so biblical, and that is its position.  Now its lyrics were penned in conjunction with a trip to Pike’s Peak in Colorado.  Katherine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College in Boston, visited that mountaintop in 1893 and began a poem inspired by the view.  A Baptist minister later put the words to a tune written by someone else.  In the end, we have is a piece some say is an alternative national anthem.  But when I say “position” I do not mean a mountaintop.  Rather what I mean is that the hymn is both in America and beside it.

              Abraham was called to leave his country and follow God.  Abraham became, in that stepping out of his home in Ur of the Chaldees, a God-person first and a Chaldean second.  He, I think we might say, loved Ur of the Chaldees but he also, heeding the call of God, stepped out of it.  He had been in and then he was beside.  That’s what I mean by position.

              This is important because sometimes to see something rightly, you have to both be in it but also beside it.  If you want to see your automobile correctly, you have to be in it but you also have to get out and walk around it.  Katherine Lee Bates in this hymn exults in the purple mountains of America as she stands there on Pike’s Peak.  She’s in her homeland loving it.  But then she steps out of it as it were and prays for it – “God, shed thy grace on thee (America).”  When you sing this hymn, you are in America appreciating it and beside it praying for it.


Rev. Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian Church & Thrift Shop

1405 Louisiana Ave, Sebastian, FL 32958;  772-589-5656

welovefirst.org and facebook.com/welovefirstsebastian    

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