Go Tell It on the Mountain

Day 11: This is My Father’s World

Genesis 1:1-31, Psalm 19:1-6, Psalm 50:11-12, Psalm 98:8-9, Matthew 6:25-34

Maltbie Babcock was the kind of college student that would make even a valedictorian jealous. To make matters worse, he was also kind, an expert swimmer, captain of the baseball team, and student orchestra leader. Babcock’s tall, muscled figure was the only thing about him that wasn’t well-rounded.

After graduating from Syracuse University, he attended Auburn Theological Seminary and eventually became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Lockport, New York. In between his daily pastoral duties, Babcock itched to get out of the church office and explore the outdoors surrounding it.

His favorite place to walk was a large hill two miles away that overlooked Lake Ontario. Grabbing his coat and running out the door, Babcock would tell his secretary, “I’m going to see my Father’s world.” He’d later write a sixteen-stanza poem, each verse beginning with that very same sentiment: “This is my Father’s world.”

Sadly, Maltbie Babcock died at age 42 from a bacteria he contracted on a ship en route to the Holy Land. Following his death, his wife compiled his writings into a book called Thoughts for Everyday Living, published in 1901. Fourteen years later, in 1915, the tune for this poem-turned-hymn was arranged from an old English melody by one of Babcock’s close friends, accomplished musician F.L. Sheppard.

Still a favorite today, “This Is My Father’s World” reminds us not only of the beauty of creation, but of the way it tethers us to the more enduring beauty of the gospel and to the goodness of our Father.

essay by Kaitlin Wernet

This Is My Father’s World
by Maltbie D. Babcock

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 earth be glad!

Sources listed here.