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This is my father’s world

Ann Swanson

When I heard our church organist play “This Is My Father’s World” as part of her prelude a couple of weeks ago it brought back vivid memories. When I was young, I went to church camp. Each morning and each evening we had a prayer service – they were called matins and vespers. The matins were the morning version while vespers were the evening counterpart. The services were held outdoors, weather permitting.

These services were impressive because we sat out on a bluff that had a beautiful view of Lake Erie. Who could doubt that this was God’s world? It never ceased to remind me of what an awesome God we serve.

When I looked into the origin of this song, I found it was written by a minister, Reverend Maltbie D. Babcock. Years after his death, it was set to music by Franklin L. Sheppard. The title was “Terra Beata” – Latin for “blessed earth”.

Babcock was known as an “outstanding Presbyterian minister and a skilled musician”. While pastoring in nearby Lockport, NY, he was in the habit of taking a daily morning walk. He frequently said, “I am going out to see my Father’s World.”

How many of us have been influenced by the beauty around us? How many of us take the time to enjoy nature?

Let us look at the words in the first verse. “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.” If we listen, we hear God in the birds that sing and the dogs that bark. We hear him in the wind that blows and the storms that travel through this area.

“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.” With the beauty that we have seen during this last month, we celebrate creation and the wonder of the Lord’s paintbrush.

Whether you are listening or observing you see God’s hand in all of it. Who can doubt that God made everything for our use?

In the second verse of the song, Babcock mentions the creatures and all that the Lord created. It says: “This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise. Did you ever think about the bird songs being carols? I did not until I read these words. “The morning light – each day he brings us new opportunities. We can start all over again. The lily-white – even the flowers praise the Lord. “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.” You do not have to be in church to praise the Lord. I find myself offering short prayers often. When I think of someone, I pray for him/her.

I have heard people say that they can worship God everywhere. That is usually their excuse not to attend church! The church is available to keep us accountable. We commune with others as we worship. We support each other in our faith.

Can’t you just imagine Babcock on his morning walk praising the Lord for everything that he saw and heard! As he looked around, he marveled at his surroundings. Have you heard the Lord pass by when the grass rustles? Have you felt his touch after a prayer?

When I was traveling back and forth to Cleveland, I recall it being really bad weather. Often as I drove, I said a prayer for safety. One time after I prayed, I felt pressure on my shoulder. I knew that was the assurance that the Lord was with me and watching over us.

In verse three Babcock writes: “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. This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?”

When we are faced with a situation the wrong choice often seems like the right choice. When you get a mixed message, – pray before you act. God is the ruler of our life – if we let him be. “The Lord is King, let the heavens ring! God reigns let the earth be glad.”

I have heard the saying, “Let go and let God” – that is a hard concept yet one that all of us need to embrace if God is the ruler of our lives.

As we look around at the painting created by the Lord’s paintbrush remember to praise his name.

It was these familiar hymns that got me through all of my treatment for cancer. I thought about the words and went through them during each and every part of the treatment. They helped me focus on what God was asking me to do.

Tonight, Don and I will work at our church’s, the Akeley United Methodist Church, Harvest Dinner. This dinner is open to the public and runs from 4:30 to 7:00 pm at the church on Akeley Road. Plan to join us for all the traditional Thanksgiving foods. It will be a night of sharing and camaraderie. It will provide a chance to visit with neighbors and friends while you enjoy your meal.

“This Is My Father’s World” rejoice and be glad in it.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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