This Is My Father's World

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This Is My Father's World
by Maltbie D. Babcock
My Father's World.JPG
GenreHymn
Written1901
Based onGenesis 1:1
Meter6.6.8.6 D
Melody"Terra Beata" by Franklin L. Sheppard

"This is My Father's World" is a well-known Christian hymn written by Maltbie Davenport Babcock, a minister from New York, and published posthumously in 1901.

History[edit]

When Rev. Babcock lived in Lockport, New York, 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 Katherine he was "going out to see the Father's world".[1] He died in 1901 at age 42. Shortly after his death Katherine 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] The poem was set to music in 1915 by Franklin L. Sheppard, a close friend of Babcock. The tune name, TERRA BEATA, means “blessed earth” in Latin.[4] Sheppard adapted the music from a traditional English melody that he learned from his mother as a child.[5]

Lyrics[edit]

Maltbie D. Babcock

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) uses stanzas 2-5, 14, and 16:

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![6]

The poem refers to several scriptures, including Jacob's exclamation "the Lord is in this place" from Genesis 28:16 and the rockfall, earthquake, and still small voice of 1 Kings 19:11-12, and the final stanza concludes by paraphrasing Psalm 96:10-11.

Some hymnals follow the 1915 setting in concluding with the 15th stanza instead: "This is my Father's world. The battle is not done. Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heav'n be one."

In popular culture[edit]

An instrumental version is 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 Sheppard’s tune, the aforementioned “Terra Beata”, verbatim in his Shire theme from his music for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

One notable recording of the song was by Amy Grant. Her version is the opening track on her 2002 studio album Legacy... Hymns and Faith and also appears on her 2015 compilation album Be Still and Know... Hymns & Faith.

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.

The Orange County Supertones include the final verse in a song also titled, "This Is My Father's World" on their album Lound and Clear.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Osbeck, Kenneth W. (1982). 101 Hymn Stories. Kregel Publications. p. 270.
  2. ^ "Maltbie Davenport Babcock — 1858-1901". The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
  3. ^ Babcock, M.B., 1901: Thoughts for Every-Day Living, p. 180. Available from the Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/thoughtsforever00babc
  4. ^ 'https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-this-is-my-fathers-world'
  5. ^ McKim, L. H., 2004. The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion. Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 978-0-664-25180-2.
  6. ^ The United Methodist Hymnal. Nashville, Tenn.: United Methodist Publishing House. 1989. p. 144. ISBN 0-687-43132-8.