Title: This Is My Father's World
Tune: Terra Beata
Numeric Outline: 126.96.36.199 (Short Metering Doubled)
Composer: Franklin L. Sheppard (1852-1930)
Author: Maltbie D Babcock (1858-1901)
Often times before going for a walk along the shores of Lake Ontario, Maltbie Davenport Babcock would say to his wife, "I am going out to see my Father's world." Babcock was the first born son to Henry and Emily Maria (Maltbie) Babcock, in Syracuse, New York. He was raised in Syracuse where he was educated through the public school systems and eventually attended Syracuse University. Babcock had come from a line of notable men, his great-grandfather, Henry Davis, was the second President of Hamilton University, and his grandfather, Rev. Ebenezer Davenport Maltbie was a famous Presbyterian Minister. Shortly after graduating in 1879, Babcock began his theological studies at Auburn Theological Seminary, where he finished his degree and became ordained in 1882. Eventually he married a women by the name of Kathrine Elliot Tallman, and had two children that passed away in infancy.
After receiving his degree in Theology, Babcock began his ministries at a church in Lockport, New York, where he was described to have a brilliant mind and great oratorical abilities. He was often sited for using "Colorful Metaphors," in his sermons, which quickly gained him favor among the parishioners. Babcock was in Lockport for only five short years when he was called to serve Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland (1887). While at Brown, Babcock started fund-raising to help Jewish immigrants who were suffering from the Anti-Jewish movement in the 1880's. During his time at Brown, he began writing daily devotionals as well as a few poems that were eventually published in the Johns Hopkins School Hymnal in 1899. Because of all of his efforts, as well as his growing infamy, Maltbie D. Babcock was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Auburn Theological Seminary. In 1900, Babcock was called to serve at Brick Church in New York City, New York. After news of his call spread, Babcock began receiving pleas from students as well as faculty from the near-by Johns Hopkins University, where he had made many friends and aquantence, to stay at Brown Memorial Church and to turn down the call at Brick Church. Babcock served only one short year at Brick Church before he passed away in Naples, Italy of a sudden illness.
During Babcock's time at Brown Memorial Church, he would go out on walks around Lake Ontario to enjoy the wonders of the world that has been created around him. Because of his love for nature and for the walks in around the lake, Babcock wrote a poem that had 16 stanzas of four lines each. The poem was published just a short time after his death in a collection entitled Babcocks Thoughts for Everyday Living. Several parts of Babcock's poem were joined together to create the first and the third stanzas of the hymn which was published in the Psalter Hymnal. In 1972, during a rise in ecological awareness, Maltbie D. Babcock's granddaughter (or as I am more apt to assume a relative of his, as it was written in a source that both of his children died in infancy), Mary Babcock Crawford, wrote stanza two of the hymn and published it in the Episcopal Hymnal in 1982.
The tune Terra Beata was originally an English Folk tune, of which a variation was published under the name Rusper in the 1906 English Hymnal. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Franklin Sheppard arranged the tune to fit Babcock's text and eventually published it in the 1915 Presbyterian Hymnal of which Sheppard was an editor for. Growing up, Sheppard and Babcock knew each other and were actually very good friends. Sheppard Graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1875, shortly after which he began working at his family's Foundry business in Baltimore, Maryland. While he was in Maryland, Sheppard was the organist at Zion Episcopal Church and eventually became the Music Director and a Church Elder at Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. Later he went on to serve as the President of the Presbyterian Board of Publications, a group that was in part responsible for publishing the 1911 Presbyterian Hymnal. Sheppard is most well known for arranging Terra Beata for Babcock's poem.
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. 2. 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. 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: why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!
My Take on the Hymn:
This hymn is all about Gods wonderful gift to us, the Earth! This land was created by God, and will always be ruled by Christ the King. The first verse talks about the wonders of the Earth and how they really amaze the voice of the text. This verse has a tone of enjoyment as if the voice is out walking around the world just as Maltbie Babcock would have been doing on the shores of Lake Ontario. The second verse is talking about God being everywhere, in the song of the birds, in the morning light, and even in the grass that surrounds us (no wonder so many places have signs saying "Keep off of the Grass!"). God has created all things on this earth, and by doing so, he has placed himself in everything that surrounds us, to serve as a reminder to everyone that he is always near and will never leave us. The third verse is all about God reigning over all of the land. The text asks a very pertinent question, why should my heart be sad? If we all take a second to look outside during a sunset, to pause a road trip in order to visit the bluffs of a river, to go off the beaten path on a hike, to visit the forest, to stand next to a mountain and see the great heights of it, to witness the vast expanses of lands from the top of that mountain, then we can realize that God is in everything created, and we should never be sad because of it. One of many gifts that has been to us as humans is the ability to enjoy nature will all five of our senses, which in turn, gives is the ability to: see God in nature, hear God in nature, feel God in nature, taste God in nature, and smell God in nature. We should always be joyful that God has surrounded us with his love with the world around us!