Not every hymn starts out as a hymn. “Let All Things Now Living” is such an example. Katherine K. Davis wrote the first stanza in the 1920s and didn’t write the second until 1939 when it was published as a choir anthem with a descant under the pseudonym of John Cowley. This hymn features images from the Old Testament. The first stanza calls for praise to God because He made us and has promised to provide for us. The journey for the Christian ultimately ends in heaven with the Lord. In the second stanza, believers join with all of God’s creation, “To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!” Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 150:6)
Katherine K. Davis was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1892 and eventually settled in New England. During the 1920s, she taught singing and piano in several private schools in Massachusetts and eventually in Pennsylvania. By 1930, when she was only 38, her health began to fail; she then turned all her efforts into composing. She published more than 800 choral and instrumental pieces, many of which have been used by choirs in churches and schools through the decades.
By 1977 failing eyesight made it very difficult for her to continue composing. In March of 1980, she began to set some of Isaac Watts’ verse to music, calling the collection “Songs Abound.” As the songs were being prepared for printing, she passed away. The last words she set to music were those of Isaac Watts: “Then let our songs abound, And ev’ry tear be dry; We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground To fairer worlds on high.”
Let all things now living A song of thanksgiving
To God the Creator triumphantly raise,
Who fashioned and made us, Protected and stayed us,
Who guides us and leads to the end of our days.
His banners are o'er us, His light goes before us,
A pillar of fire shining forth in the night,
Till shadows have vanished And darkness is banished,
As forward we travel from light into light.
His law he enforces; The stars in their courses
And sun in its orbit obediently shine;
The hills and the mountains, The rivers and fountains,
The deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine.
We too should be voicing Our love and rejoicing;
With glad adoration a song let us raise,
Till all things now living Unite in thanksgiving:
To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!