Artful is God

by Kim on August 31, 2006

There is no more brilliant sunlight or mellifluous moonlight than there is on a Greek island. While I was lying on a beach in Cephallonia this summer, a hymn in praise of the Creator began to come to me, and I finished it back in Swansea. Here it is. I’m sorry if you don’t know the tune, Som Stranden by Lars Ake Lundberg (1935 -), which is lovely.

Artful is God, creation is his canvas
on which he paints his cosmic masterpiece:
brushstrokes both broad and delicate in detail,
colours and shapes composed in perfect peace.

Artful is God, creation is his canvas
on which he paints his cosmic masterpiece.

Zillions of stars, exploding out of nothing,
dance for the Lord, delightful in his eye;
billions of years it takes for sketching planets,
time to design an earth to occupy.

Dazzling the sun, and silver-soft the moonlight,
fruitful the land, and fathomless the sea;
wondrous is life, from single cell to primate,
awesome is death, the final mystery.

What then of man, the end of evolution,
image divine defaced by sin and vice?
Artful is God, producing from his palette
Adam restored: self-portrait Jesus Christ!

(Tune: Som Stranden)

Kim Fabricius

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }


Richard 08.31.06 at 12:15 pm

I don’t know that tune, kim, but it goes very nicely to “O Perfect Love” (aka “Perfect Love”) if sung without the refrain.
Forgive me, but I’m not happy about “zillions” in the 2nd verse. It’s too colloquial, playful even, to my mind - out of keeping with the rest of the lyrics. “Billions” would be a better fit I reckon.
Grand hymn - I like it alot.


Ben Myers 08.31.06 at 12:35 pm

I see Richard’s point, although you wouldn’t want to use “billions” twice in the same verse. If you were looking for another word, perhaps “unnumbered”? (Although that might be heading too far away from the colloquial!)

Anyway, I love the image of a casual “sketch” taking place over billions of years. Very nice indeed!


tortoise 08.31.06 at 2:08 pm

I’m humming Finlandia in my head (the hymn tune, not the full-blown Sibelius!) - I think it fits…?


Kim 08.31.06 at 2:26 pm

Thanks for the comments, guys. Sorry about the “zillions”, but combining the “colloquial” - indeed the “playful” - Luther’s language of the marketplace - with the more formal is part of my hymnic style.


blonde 08.31.06 at 9:55 pm

it’s lovely. feels more trad than some of your hymns! beautiful. thanks for sharing.


Richard 08.31.06 at 11:20 pm

“unnumbered”. Yes! Kim, do you mind if I put that in when i use it?


Kim 09.01.06 at 3:49 am


Of course not. What’s a word between friends?!

But another word on “zillions”. What I like most about it, why I chose it, is its sheer, almost childlike exuberance - as if in ceation God were enjoying himself at play. And wasn’t/isn’t he?


Richard 09.01.06 at 10:22 am

I don’t object to the word itself, Kim. It’s a fine, fine word. A credit to its parents. I’m just not convinced it fits the mood set by the rest of the hymn.

“What’s a word between friends?”
Depends on the word! ;)


Paul 09.01.06 at 11:24 am

Speaking as a mathematician, billions is far too small a number for the stars. Even trillions won’t do it. No other bigger numbers scan. Unnumbered is also wrong as the stars are clearly countable (they may be countably infinite depending on your view of the light-cone). Zillions is not a mathematical trem but its poetic nature seems the best fit you’re going to get.


Kim 09.01.06 at 1:06 pm

Thanks for that, Paul. Mathematics and poetry embrace!


Richard 09.01.06 at 1:28 pm

OK, I give in!

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