This is my Father’s world, and to my list’ning ears
all nature sings, and round 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 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 ev’rywhere.
This is my Father’s world; oh, let me not 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?
The Lord is king, let heaven ring;
God reigns, let earth be glad!
I was reminded of my love of this hymn this summer, when one of our members Lee Berry sang a beautiful solo arrangement of it. The lyrics come from part of a sixteen stanza poem written by Rev. Maltbie D. Babcock and published after his death in 1901. It is in our hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, as hymn 824.
This hymn resonates with many who often feel the presence of God strongly in nature. The idea of creation itself praising God reminds me of Psalm 96, which reads: “Let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that is in it. Then shall the trees of the wood shout for joy at your coming, O Lord.”
This time through reading the hymn, what struck me most was the final stanza, though. “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” It seems as if lately much of creation is not singing a song of joyful praise, but one of fearful might and power. Hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes reveal our powerlessness and fragility. The wrong in the world seems strong outside of natural events, as well, with mass shootings, racist rallies, and a lack of decency in public discourse.
We cannot wash over any of these things—they are tragedies and disasters that we must handle with prayer, with reaching out, with giving of ourselves to others, and supporting real, practical solutions. What the hymn would have us remember, though, is that even in the midst of such horrible events, God is present. God is still God, even when we struggle to feel God’s presence.
“The Lord is king, let heaven ring; God reigns, let earth be glad!”
God of heaven and earth, you created the world and all that is in it. You formed us and called us as sons and daughters to be your people. Let us rejoice in all that is good in your creation, taking joy in the marvelous works of your hands. Let us seek to amend what is wrong in creation, nurturing instead that which gives life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.