This Is My Father's World

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1919 publication of "This is My Father's World"

This is My Father's World is a well-known Christian hymn written by Maltbie Davenport Babcock, a minister from New York. The piece was published after his death in 1901 at age 42. The poem was set to music in 1915 by Franklin L. Sheppard, a close friend of Babcock, who apparently did not want to call attention to himself and signed using his initials rearranged as "S.F.L." Most sources state that Sheppard adapted the music from a traditional English melody that he learned from his mother as a child.[1]

History[edit]

When Maltbie Davenport Babcock lived in Lockport, he took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook's panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario, telling his wife he was "going out to see the Father's world". Shortly after his death in 1901 she published a compilation of Babcock's writings entitled Thoughts for Every-Day Living that contained the poem "My Father's World."[2] The original poem contained sixteen stanzas of four lines each.[3] In 1916 Sheppard chose only three verses of the sixteen when he set the poem to music to a tune entitled "Terra Beata" (Latin for "Blessed Earth").[4] Scripture references in the original poem include Psalm 33:5 "He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love." and Psalm 50:12 "For the world is mine, and all that is it."

Lyrics[edit]

When sung as a hymn Babcock's poem usually is condensed to three to six verses, with each verse corresponding to two stanzas in the poem. An example (from the United Methodist Hymnal) is:

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![5]

Use[edit]

An instrumental version is fittingly used in the Ken Burns documentary film, The National Parks, and the corresponding sponsorship slot for The Park Foundation.

Howard Shore quoted the first seven notes of the hymn verbatim in his Shire theme from his music for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

A child sings this hymn in the Criminal Minds first season episode "Blood Hungry" in 2005.

The theme song from Penn Jillette's podcast Penn's Sunday School is based off the hymn. While Penn is an atheist, he states that this was his favorite hymn growing up.

References[edit]

  1. ^ McKim, L.H., 2004. The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion. Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 978-0-664-25180-2.
  2. ^ "Maltbie Davenport Babcock — 1858-1901". The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  3. ^ Babcock, M.B., 1901: Thoughts for Every-Day Living. Available from the Internet Archive, http://www.archive.org/details/thoughtsforever00babc
  4. ^ 101 Hymn Stories By Kenneth W. Osbeck (Kregel Publications, 1982)
  5. ^ The United Methodist Hymnal. Nashville, Tenn.: United Methodist Publishing House. 1989. p. 144. ISBN 0-687-43132-8.