Written by Folliot S. Pierpoint, this is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving and was originally written as a song for the Eucharist (The Lord's Supper).
Pierpoint was the author of several poetry collections, including The Chalice of Nature and Other Poems (1855), Songs of Love, the Chalice of Nature, and Lyra Jesu (2nd Edition, 1858). The words of this hymn appeared in Lyrica Eucharistica, The Hymnal Noted (second edition, 1864). (source)
Pierpoint was born in Bath, England in 1835. He was educated at Queens College in Cambridge, and later taught at Somersetshire College, where he was a teacher of classics.
He wrote numerous poems, but For the Beauty of the Earth is the only one he is remembered for today. Not only did he write books of poetry, but also produced two hymnals. He was 29 years old when he wrote this particular hymn.
The song was inspired by the beauty of the countryside that surrounded him. Pierpoint wrote praises of God for the beauties all around him into the lyrics. Take for instance beauty of the earth and sky, beauty of each hour, and the joy of human love that he incorporates into the lyrics. (source)
The words to the original text can be found here. The tune Dix was written by Conrad Kocher in 1838, also the tune used for As with Gladness Men of Old.
Pierpoint died at age 82 having written 7 volumes of poetry.
Originally the last two lines of each verse read:
This our sacrifice of praise.
(2) For the wonder of each hour,
Linking sense to sound and sight;
For all gentle things and mild