This Is My Father’s World

Oct 03 2019

Well, the maxim “You learn something new every day” just may prove true, in my case. 

Later this evening (or, more accurately, earlier this morning), the song This Is My Father’s World was my meditation. I had never looked up the origin of the hymn, so I did tonight (this morning– er, never mind). The information surprised me (insert strains of It’s a Small World After All here). 

This Is My Father’s World was written by Presbyterian clergyman Maltbie Davenport Babcock. He was born in Syracuse, not far from my own childhood home. He studied at Auburn Theological Seminary (another childhood city) which I don’t think even exists anymore. Babcock’s grandfather was Hamilton College’s second president (Hamilton College is very near to where I currently live). 

Babcock and his wife were living in Lockport, New York (near Buffalo), when he penned a little poem he called This Is My Father’s World. He was inspired by the sweeping views of Niagara Falls and Upstate New York from his walks along the dramatic Niagara Escarpment. 

Babcock died suddenly in Naples, Italy, in 1901. He was only 42 years old. At the time of his death, he was a somewhat famous minister, very much beloved and holding prestigious positions in Baltimore, Maryland, and New York City. 

His wife, Katherine Babcock, published the poem after his death. She also published a small devotional book Babcock had written, Thoughts For Everyday Living. The book contains sweet little musings and meditations such as this: 

Men are convinced more quickly and certainly by what they see than by what they hear. It is not, “Let your lips speak,” but “Let your light shine.” The living epistle is not know and heard of all men but known and read.

In 1919, Franklin L. Sheppard wrote music to This Is My Father’s World. I love the melody. It supposedly came from an old English song. 

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white, declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world, he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!

I like the tune because it is so simple. The words are so sweet. I can imagine young Rev. Babcock watching the sun rise or the leaves rustling on the majestic New York hills.

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