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Friday, October 21, 2016

Today’s Hymn            

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening 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.
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.
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
and earth and heaven be one.

Maltbie D. Babcock’s “This Is My Father’s World” (tune: Terra Beata)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Often while singing a hymn text we encounter words or phrases that we would not use in our everyday language. I relish each of these moments because they are reminders that a hymn has stood the test of time and has been sung by countless generations. These texts have nurtured so many people and continue to inspire even today.

The text for the hymn “This Is My Father’s World” was written in 1901 by the pastor of Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Sadly, he died soon after writing these words. This beautiful text contains several words and phrases that pull the ear back into the nineteenth century—phrases like “I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.”

Not only does it connect us to a past age, it makes us think a bit more about its meaning as it stands apart from everyday language. Today we might just say, “Wow, God is totally awesome.” But to use the text from 1901 makes us slow down and think about what we are singing. Somehow the words of a century ago—or in many cases many centuries ago—make the text stand apart from our everyday language and that can be a good thing. Even Jesus said, “Be in the world, but not of the world.”

I am thankful that many of the great older hymns of the faith are included in our hymnal, hymns that have spiritually fed generations and will continue to do so for many more, hymns that make us pause and contemplate their beauty and meaning.

Lord, thank you for poets and composers who have given us hymns so we may nurture our faith and sing always to your praise and glory. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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