While a student at Syracuse University, Maltie Babcock was a top scholar, an outstanding athlete, a gifted musician, and an avid fisherman. But Babcock realized his true calling was the ministry, so he went on to study at Auburn Theological Seminary and became a Presbyterian minister. While serving as pastor in New York, Babcock would often take hikes outside of town telling his wife he was “going out to see the Father’s world.”
Babcock, known for using colorful metaphors in his preaching, enjoyed writing poetry and contributed several texts to the Presbyterian School Hymnal (1899). After his untimely death on a trip to the Holy Land, his wife published a compilation of his writings which included a sixteen stanza poem titled My Father’s World.
Five years later, Franklin L. Sheppard, a church musician and one of Babcock’s close friends, set My Father’s World to music and added it to a Presbyterian songbook he was editing. Using an English folk tune his mother sang to him as a child, Terra Beata (Latin for “beautiful world”), Sheppard arranged the hymn but chose not to call attention to himself in the publication. He signed the hymn using his initials rearranged as “S.F.L.” and instead credited his friend – giving Babcock a lasting legacy that continues in hymnbooks today.
When I created this piano arrangement of This Is My Father’s World, I decided to have some fun and change the meter. Instead of the usual four beats per bar, I switched it to a three beat waltz to give it a gentler, flowing feel. I kept the rhythms and harmonies simple to allow the beautiful melody to shine and also to reflect the quiet simplicity of nature – a theme prevalent in the hymn’s text. It’s an easy-to-prepare arrangement and, even though it’s one of my early ones, I still think of it as one of my favorites. And while I’m talking about favorites, you can find a bit of my favorite verse of this hymn below. Enjoy! 🙂
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.