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October 11, 2007 / Daniel

“This Is My Father’s World”

Creation Falls

Image by Rob Ireton via Flickr

For my Christian Theology class, we have to make a presentation on the theology of one of our favorite hymns.  I chose “This Is My Father’s World.”

Author

  • Maltie D. Babcock (1858-1901) was a Presbyterian minister. He pastored two different churches in his lifetime: the First Presbyterian Church of Lockport, New York, and Brick Presbyterian Church in New York, New York.

  • Babcock earned degrees from Syracuse University and Auburn Theological Seminary.

  • He was ordained in 1882. Babcock spent several years (1882-1899) as a pastor in Lockport, New York. It’s near Lake Ontario. He was a hiking enthusiast. He deeply enjoyed spending time in nature.

  • Just before his death in 1901, Babcock had been appointed to the pastorate at Brick Presbyterian Church in New York, New York.

  • He died at the age of 42 when he contracted brucellosis on a family trip around the Mediterranean.

  • Babcock once said, “Good habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the new year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won.”

  • Babcock may have written this poem during one of his wilderness hikes around Lockport.

  • His wife Catherine published the poem “This Is My Father’s World” after his death in 1901.

  • The music for the hymn comes from the traditional English melody Terra Beata. In 1915, Franklin L. Shepherd arranged the music.

  • Babcock never heard his hymn sung.  

Theological Implications

  • As the creator, God is sovereign over His creation.

  • The beauty of nature reveals God’s glory.

  • God has revealed Himself as a loving Father.

  • We must be careful to listen to the praises of creation for the Creator.

  • Even though evil at times seems to be very prevalent in this world, God is still in control.

  • Sin has entered God’s good world, but God has not abandoned His creation.

  • There will come a future day when Jesus will set this world to rights.

  • Heaven and earth will come together one day (the Lord’s Prayer).

  • Unlike many of the songs from this time period, the eschatological goal of the hymns is not an escape into heaven, but the renewal of God’s creation.

  • Babcock compares his experience of God’s creation as an OT theopany. In the same way that burning bush revealed God to Moses, creation reveals God to us. Experiencing God should make us feel like we are at home.

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Matthew C / Oct 12 2007 7:44 am

    I cannot remember all of the words of that hymn, but I am sure their was a line or two that I was uncomfortable with.

  2. Rev. Robyn Young / Sep 13 2009 12:32 pm

    Did you know that the line about “the music of the spheres” has to do with the fact that each heavenly body gives off its own radio frequency?? So each one has its own music which varies as to orbit and shifts. How could Babcock have known this before the invention of radio telescopes?? How cool! I am preaching on this today. Thanks for your background info.

Trackbacks

  1. Semicolon » Blog Archive » Hymn #41: This Is My Father’s World

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