My Father’s World

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One of the all-time and well-loved hymns of Christian churches is the song of praise and adoration entitled “This Is My Father’s World”.

The history of the hymn shows it was originally written as a poem of 16 verses, each with four lines by Maltbie Davenport Babcock and was published after his death in 1901.

Babcock was an American preacher living in upstate New York.

Fifteen years later, Franklin Sheppard set the poem to music, using some of the 16 verses for the hymn that was stood the test of time.

Babcock, in writing the poem, drew inspiration from the scenic view he saw in his usual walks by the cliff overlooking Lake Ontario.

In his walks, the story said, he would tell his wife that he was going “to see his Father’s world”.

***

The hymn that has reverberated around the world proclaiming God’s glory:

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

The birds their carols raise

The morning light, the lily white

Declare their maker’s praise.

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

Oh, let me never 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 the heavens ring

God reigns, let the earth be glad.

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.

We are, indeed, blessed and privileged to live in our marvelous and wonderful Father’s world.

***

The story behind the beginnings of the hymn has struck a sentimental chord in my mind as it reminds me of the father-son bonding moments when I was barely 5 years old, a generation after the hymn was written.

My father, Rev. Leorico Badilla Del Carmen, a preacher like Babcock, occasionally took me for a walk by the beach, which was about 300 meters away from our parsonage-home.

Those walks gave me valuable lessons in life about love and stewardship of nature and the environment.

“Look at the sun, the sky, the waves and everything around us,” he said. “They are ours.”

“Ours?” my young mind asked as I held his giant hand as we walked down the beach. “How come they are ours when we are not rich?”

“You forgot that those are all God’s creations?”

“And so…?”

“Because we are children of God,” he continued, “those created by God also belong to us.”

That simplified the logic of the epistemology and metaphysics of the creation story.

“That’s why we should take good care of our environment.”

***

Father was a visionary with the zeal of a missionary.

He formed a group of churches in the plains coasts and mountains of southern Negros and later planted more congregations in the area.

Fellow church leaders, Christian educators and he established a Bible-teaching high school, which continues to operate for almost 70 years now in Cauayan.

At the age of 43, he founded a Bible school which has been training pastors and other church workers for more than 60 years.

These workers are now scattered in various ministries across the country.

Tatay was a man with great thirst for knowledge. He also read and studied a lot in preparing his sermons.

He kept a library and a small study room, which was a ‘don’t disturb area’ while he was preparing for his Bible classes or the pulpit.

His reading materials were not limited to theological topics. We received regularly at home national and international magazines and subscribed to the Manila Times newspaper, the copies delivered daily by the bus from the city that reached our hometown past 6 p.m.

Apparently it was through this exposure to publications that led me to the exciting world of journalism.

I remember that in his sickbed, he asked me how emails worked, saying he was amazed at how technology was transforming the field of communication.

If I remember it well, he said it was his desire to see the arrival of the 21st century. He almost did but a little more than 30 days before 2000, at the age of 84, Tatay joined his Creator, the Master he loved and served so well during his lifetime.

To say that he was a man of deep faith may be an understatement.

He spoke, breathed and lived the faith that in my youth, there was a time when I wondered if he would ever take a break from the rigors of his calling.

So great was his faith in God’s provision that despite his very meager income, he and mother sent all seven children, to the university with four of us getting a taste of American college education.

I believe he was well-loved and respected. On his funeral, over a kilometer of people occupied more than half of the width of the road and braved the afternoon heat to join our family in sending him off to his earthly resting place.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, from us, your children. We are sure that you and mom are happy in the presence of God our heavenly Father.

***

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:11-12) – NWI

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