By Hymn Stories
Author --Maltbie D. Babcock, 1858-1901
Composer --Franklin L. Sheppard, 1852-1930
Tune Name --"Terra Beata"
"He loveth righteousness and judgment: The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." Psalm 33:5
This hymn is taken from a sixteen-verse poem written by the Rev. Maltbie D. Babcock and published posthumously in 1901. The first line of each of the sixteen stanzas begins with "This is my Father's world. " Maltbie D. Babcock was born in Syracuse, New York, on August 3, 1858 of a socially prominent family. Later he became recognized as one of the outstanding Presbyterian ministers of his generation. It has been said that a manlier man never stood in a Christian pulpit. He was tall and broad-shouldered with muscles of iron, a superb specimen of physical manhood. He was a champion baseball pitcher and swimmer. The young men of his church fairly idolized and yet respected their pastor for his strong convictions and principles. He was as full of fun and mischief as the next man, but some things he would not tolerate. One day when an older fellow was trying to bully one younger than himself and was indulging in some unsavory language, Babcock quietly seized him by the nape of his neck and the seat of the trousers and with a word of forceful warning pitched him over the fence. Something of the virile character of Babcock, both as a man and preacher, is reflected in one of his well-known poems, "Be Strong: "
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.
Rev. Mr. Babcock was also known as a skilled musician, performing on the organ, piano and violin. He was a great admirer of nature, as reflected in this text. While a pastor in Lockport, New York, Dr. Babcock was in the habit of taking morning walks to the top of a hill north of town where he had a full view of Lake Ontario and the surrounding country. He was characterized by his frequent expression, "I'm going out to see my Father's world. " However, as one writer has noted, "This hymn is more than a mere outburst of song about nature, but rather a seasoned appreciation, beautifully worded, of unfailing trust in the ways and judgments of God. In the hymn Babcock portrays the message of God's Presence, God's Personality, God's Power, God's Purpose. "
The tune for this text was arranged from an old English melody by one of Babcock's close friends, F. L. Sheppard, an accomplished musician. It was first published in his book, Alleluia, a Presbyterian Sunday School book published in 1915. The tune name, "Teffa Beata," is Latin for "blessed earth."
"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
"Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
"The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning
That brightens up the sky.
"The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.
"The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day.
"He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
--Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818-1895