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Hymn History: “This Is My Father’s World”

2 min

“I’m going out to see my Father’s world.” These words were often heard as the young pastor went for a jog in the morning sunshine. His usual route involved running two miles to a certain hill and then back again. Sometimes he would run farther on to a bird sanctuary to see more of his “Father’s world.” Reverend Maltbie D. Babcock’s vigorous morning exercise set the tone for his day—praise to God and enjoyment of life.

Reverend Babcock was a man of many talents. A brilliant scholar and athlete, he had been an expert swimmer and the captain of the collegiate baseball team. His musical interests had included directing the university orchestra, playing multiple instruments, and composing Godly music. Other talents involved his leading the university glee club, singing, and art. In his leisure time, he was also an avid fisherman.

Although he could have chosen from many different professions, Reverend Babcock’s love for the Lord led him to choose the pastoral ministry. During his first pastorate he composed the hymn “This Is My Father’s World.”

This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears,
All nature sings and ’round me rings
The music of the spheres.

How was Reverend Babcock able to accomplish so much? One way was in prioritizing his time well. Every morning he had an hour scheduled for prayer. If he had not set that time aside, other tasks in his busy life would have easily crowded out his prayer time and hindered his relationship with the Lord. In his poem “Be Strong,” he wrote:

We are not here to play, to dream, to drift,
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift,
Shun not the struggle; face it;
’Tis God’s gift.

While in his early forties, Reverend Babcock’s church gave him and his wife a very special gift—a trip to Egypt and Palestine. Sailing for home afterward, he took ill of a deadly fever, and the ship took him to Naples, Italy. He died there at the International Hospital on May 18, 1901. Six months later, his wife compiled and published his poems and hymns. Included in the collection was the hymn “This Is My Father’s World.”

Orderliness is “preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency.” Certainly Reverend Babcock’s life exemplified orderliness! Unaware of the shortness of his time on earth, he wisely arranged his days with purposeful planning, making times with the Lord a priority. His hymn points to his trust in an omnipotent God Who does all things well. May we stop and observe the beauty and order of creation, and learn to arrange our days so we may achieve greater efficiency for God!

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