Posted by: rcottrill | January 13, 2012

This Is My Father’s World

Words: Maltbie Davenport Babcock (b. Aug. 3, 1858; d. May 18,1901)
Music: Terra Beata, by Franklin Lawrence Sheppard (b. Aug. 7, 1852; d. Feb. 15, 1930)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The author and the composer, Franklin Sheppard, were friends for many years. A singularly handsome man, and athletic, Maltbie Babcock died at the age of forty-three of brucellosis (a highly contagious fever sometimes carried by domestic animals).

The Cyber Hymnal gives six stanzas of Pastor Babcock’s sixteen-stanza poem. It is customary to use only CH-1 through 3 for the hymn, though there are some interesting thoughts in the remainder. For example, the idea that the earth holds a special place in the heart of God because His holy Son walked upon it. It is the presence of God that renders the path beneath our feet “holy ground” (cf. Exod. 3:5).

For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

Edward Young, a fifteenth century English poet, said, “An undevout astronomer is mad.” To deny that the spangled heavens have a Creator and Designer is simply foolishness (cf. Ps. 14:1). The same can be said, of course, of all creation. Not only what is probed by the telescope, but what can be placed on the viewing stage of a microscope, these are all incredible wonders, showing the infinite wisdom of God. This is indeed “my Father’s world,” and all of nature proclaims His glory.

CH-1) 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.

But Maltbie Babcock’s poem is more than simply a paean to the beauties of nature. He sees all of this in the context of the power and purposes of a sovereign God. And the wonders of nature are one thing, but there is a moral dimension to life on earth as well. The natural world around us may be beautiful to behold, but the wickedness of human beings is all around us too. We are warned, in Scripture, that as the day approaches for Christ’s return, the evils in society will grow worse and worse (I Tim. 4:1-3; II Tim. 3:1-5, 12-13).

Sometimes, we might almost think that evil is about to triumph completely. With tormented Job we’re tempted to cry, “My eye will never again see good” (Job 7:7). But God is still on the throne. One day, Christ will return in glory, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God” (II Thess. 1:8), and He will reign forever as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Tim. 6:14-16; cf. Isa. 9:6-7). As believers, we have His promise that we’ll share in that reign (Rev. 5:9-10).

One day the Lord is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, and the heavenly city will descend, and God will dwell in the midst of His people forever. All evil will be put away, and all the suffering it has caused. Then it may be truly said, without reservation, “This is my Father’s world” (Rev. 21:1-5).

CH-3) 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: the battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heav’n be one.

1) What can we learn about God from nature? And what are some things not revealed about Him there?

2) What is the fundamental and encouraging spiritual message of this hymn?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Hi, Robert,

    I love this hymn! It has a great, singable tune, wonderfully singable words, and a profound theological message.

    Do you have a source for all sixteen stanzas of Rev. Babcock’s poem?


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