Updated: Apr 24
Danish: Op! al den ting, som Gud har gjort
Text: Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764). Tune: Bohemian Brethren 1577
1. Rise up, all things that God has made,
And praise your Maker’s glory!
Each tiny leaf, each grassy blade,
Proclaims a wondrous story.
2. Though all the kings on earth can show
Their utmost strength and power,
They cannot make a leaflet grow,
Nor mend a broken flower.
3. Yes! all the angels greatest pow’rs
Their heaven’s scepter’s wielding,
Cannot find strength in all their hours
To set a dust mote wheeling.
4. The smallest grass I wonder at
In forests and in valleys,
Where can I find the wit to praise
And rightly name their glory?
5. How will I then begin to speak
Of all that I am seeing?
How many people can we see
In all God’s widespread kingdoms?
6. What shall I say, where are the words
To praise God’s great creation:
The teeming woods, the winged birds,
The glorious constellations?
7. What shall I say when’er I walk
By flow’rs I see abounding
And hear the birds together talk,
Like thousand harps resounding.
8. What shall I say, when all my mind
Sinks deep into the ocean
Can I describe the depths I find
Beneath its swirling motion?
9. What shall I say, when I behold,
The stars in countless numbers
And see their smiling charms unfold,
While nature sweetly slumbers?
11. What shall I say, when I arise
To view my God before me,
And see the hosts of angels fly
In happy troops of glory?
12. What shall I say? Weak are my words
And humble my opinion.
How great thy wisdom, Lord of Lords,
Thy might and thy dominion!
13. All those who have the Spirit shall
Rejoice in God’s creation.
His praise shall fill the hills and dales
The mouths of every nation.
14. O praise the Lord upon the earth
All those with tongues to praise him
And all the company in heav’n
Now sing our Maker’s praises.
15. All people now break forth and sing
With joyful tones together:
Hallelujah! Our God is King!
And Amen! Heaven answers!
The heaths of southern Jutland around Løgumkloster teem with herbage of many kinds:
farms, green and golden fields, with rich farm odors, ditches filled with wild flowers, small brooks and rills oozing with water on the way to the ocean, a wisp of salt from North Sea which before an extensive building of dikes would sweep over the flat lands destroying everything in its wake, even the parsonage in Randerup where Brorson lived as a child. And at night, where there is little light spill from cities, the stars, oh, my, the stars!
It is flat, like my native North Dakota, where wild roses abounded in the ditches. Though many people think these vistas are boring, those of us who grew up on them know their immensity: it shows our own insignificance. The sunrises and sunsets spread in their glorious colors across the entire horizon. During my six weeks at Løgumkloster, I would walk out on the hiking trails through small woodlands, beside small brooks, and into the wide open fields about dusk and marvel. It left one speechless.
Brorson addresses himself along with creation in the hymn—what can we say faced with all this glory? Being speechless before what one loves is natural. It leaves us in wonder. Brorson describes in detail what makes him speechless, a neat concept. What shall I say? Say what makes you speechless!
The Lutheran hymns at their best address the congregation. They teach and preach. They are not usually praise songs, but meditations giving us reason to praise, which the last stanza often does. This hymn, probably the most popular hymn in Denmark today, extends the congregation to all of creation. The hymn singer exhorts all to sing in praise of God. All creatures are together in having a creator. So praise is due.
It gives us a way to name our pleasure in nature. Some have thought Brorson wrote this hymn as a kind of travelogue for his walk north from Løgumkloster where he was working as a teacher to his home in Randerup where his mother and family lived.
Because we have come to think hymns belong in church and are for the worship service only, we have left many hymns like these behind—which is regrettable. One hour in church is a very small part of my life of faith. To my mind this renders a key insight of the Reformation void. Luther wanted to bring the faith into our daily lives. Before radio or CDs, people used to sing as they worked or relaxed. Many of their songs had to do with what they were doing or wanted to remember: work songs, seasonal carols, or didactic teaching songs—"This is the way we wash our clothes, so early Monday morning," etc. Now we listen and don’t sing, something to be regretted because singing is so physical and unites us with those with whom we sing. Now as the springtime fills us with new beauties, I think it is time to sing of them, and name the lovely things that open our mouths with praise.
Brorson wrote this for a collection of hymns, A Rare Treasury of Faith/Troens Rare Klenodie. He was writing it for the edification of his congregation in Tønder, where he was one of the Danish pastors. The head pastor Johann Schrader served the German speaking population as the area had both Danish and German speaking citizens. The first collection of hymns Brorson wrote was Christmas hymns, such as "Your Little Ones, Dear Lord are We," that became musts for Lutherans in the north. He published this hymn in a collection he printed in 1734. Grundtvig thought of it as the Danish Te Deum. Kai Munk, the Danish martyr of WWII, thought of it as a Pentecost and spring song. The Czech melody has become the preferred tune in Denmark. This was in the United Evangelical Lutheran Church's Hymnal for Church and Home, the Danish American hymnal. We have lost it, unfortunately.
Enjoy watching the congregation in Holmen church in Copenhagen singing for the baptisms of Princess Josefine and Prince Vincent born to the Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. Utterly charming. (For more on Brorson see Hymn 37, "God's Son Has Made Me Free.") See also some babies learning the hymn in the program called Baby Sing.
The Baptism of Princess Josephine and Prince Vincent--at about 3:40
Danish soloist/Anne Dorte Michelsen
Danish baby sing
Den Danske Salmeduo/jazz version