Maltbie Davenport Babcock, a minister from Lockport, NY, took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook’s panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario. When leaving his home for one of these walks, he’d tell his wife that he was going out to “see the Father’s world”.
Shortly after his death in 1901 she published a compilation of Babcock’s writings entitled Thoughts for Every-Day Living that contained the poem “My Father’s World.” The original poem contained sixteen stanzas of four lines each. Scripture references in the original poem include Psalm 33:5 “He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” and Psalm 50:12 “For the world is mine, and all that is it.” In 1915 three of the verses were put to music. (from Wikipedia)
“This is My Father’s World” has always been a favorite hymn of mine and if you look online for the complete poem (http://archive.org/details/thoughtsforever00babc) instead of just the three or four verses in most hymnals, it’s really wonderful to contemplate.
When we participate in hikes and camping, it’s a chance to disconnect from the wild rush of the wireless world and reconnect with a slower, more methodical way of living. I often hear these words echoing in my mind as we walk along forest trails next to babbling brooks and across sunny meadows to get to our destination:
This is my Father's world. On the day of its wondrous birth The stars of light in phalanx bright Sang out in Heavenly mirth. This is my Father's world. E'en yet to my listening ears All nature sings, and around 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 that 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. From His eternal throne, He watch doth keep when I'm asleep, And I am not alone. This is my Father's world. Dreaming, I see His face. I open my eyes, and in glad surprise Cry, "The Lord is in this place." This is my Father's world. I walk a desert lone. In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known. This is my Father's world. Among the mountains drear, 'Mid rending rocks and earthquake shocks, The still, small voice I hear. This is my Father's world. From the shining courts above. The Beloved One, His only Son, Came—a pledge of deathless love. This is my Father's world. Now closer to Heaven bound. For dear to God is the earth Christ trod, No place but is holy ground. This is my Father's world. His love has filled my breast, I am reconciled, I am His child, My soul has found His rest. This is my Father's world. A wanderer I may roam. Whatever my lot, it matters not, My heart is still at home. This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget That tho' 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 Heaven be one. This is my Father's world. Should my heart be ever sad? The Lord is King—let the Heavens ring God reigns—let the earth be glad.
Here are two fun trivia facts (from Wikipedia):
Trivia #1 — Howard Shore quoted the first seven notes of the hymn verbatim in his Shire theme from his music for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Trivia #2 — The theme song from Penn Jillette’s podcast Penn’s Sunday School is based off the hymn. While Penn is an atheist, he states that this was his favorite hymn growing up.