He Shines in All That's Fair - Maltbie D. Babcock

Presbyterian minister Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858-1901) lived a short life on this earth, all of his works were published posthumously, but what a treasure one can find in reading them.

One of his most famous compositions was originally written as a poem (“My Father’s World”), but was later, in 1915, set to music as a hymn (“This Is My Father’s World”) by his friend Franklin L. Sheppard. First published in Thoughts For Every-Day Living from the Spoken and Written Words of Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1901), it is a beautiful expression of the wonder of God’s creation and a reminder that God is on the throne over this world. It was inspired in part by the view from his regular hikes along the Niagara Escarpment. Before leaving on such hikes he would often tell his secretary, “I’m going to see my Father’s world.”

The original poem is comprised of sixteen stanzas of four verses each. Sheppard’s hymn-version contains three stanzas of six verses each. Sheppard’s version is given below, but take time to peruse the original poem in Thoughts For Every-Day Living, which is a remarkable collection of devotional thoughts filled with many other precious gems. One line from Babcock’s poem is also highlighted in 2001 book by Richard Mouw, He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace.

1 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.

2 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 everywhere.

3 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 the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad.

The Storm Is in His Hand

William Cowper once famously wrote:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

Samuel Jones Cassels, whose pastorates ranged from Norfolk, Virginia to Savannah, Georgia, was a 19th century Presbyterian minister and poet who was acquainted with coastal storms. The imagery of tempests figures often in his poetry. In fact, his gravestone in Midway, Georgia was badly damaged by a storm in 2012.

Like Cowper, he knew who was sovereign over the wind and the waves. In Providence he wrote:

Himself an ocean wide of purest bliss

O’er Ocean’s face He drives the storm along,
And at his bottom deep He counts his pearls;

The storm that raged He held in firmest grasp,
And to it gave its power, and course, and end.

It's Never Night in Heaven

Louis FitzGerald Benson was not only, as a scholar and an historian, "America's foremost hymnologist," he was also a poet in his own right. This composition is from his 1897 volume titled Hymns and Verses. It is a sweet meditation on Revelation 22:5. 

"And There Shall Be No Night There"

THERE'S a red burst of dawn, and a white light of noon,
[And the hues of the rainbow are seven;]
But the best thing of all, when the dark comes so soon,
Is to know that it's ne'er night in Heaven.

There's a break in the clouds, and a sheen on the rain,
[And the hues of the rainbow are seven;]
But the sweetest of lights that can brighten our pain
Is to know that it's ne'er night in Heaven.

There's a calm' of the heart through the long after- noon,
[And the gifts of the Spirit are seven,]
When there floats on the dusk, like a leaf-whispered tune,
"Did you know that it's ne'er night in Heaven?"

There's a gleam through the night of a throne set afar,
[And the hues of its rainbow are seven;]
But it stands not so sure as God's promises are. Who has said,
"There is no night in Heaven."

The Prodigal Returning to His Fathers

In his brief life Irving Spence (1799-1836) most famously left behind his Letters on the Early History of the Presbyterian Church in America, addressed to Robert M. Laird and published posthumously. 

Spence was not only a Presbyterian ruling elder, an attorney, a correspondent and an historian - he was also a poet. Among the handful of poems that we have from his pen recorded in this volume, one particular composition by Spence is given here for your devotional consideration. 


I will arise, and go to my Father, and will say unto him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.—Luke xiv. 18, 19.

Long the ways of sin I've trod.
Long have walked the downward road,
Long rebelled against my God,
And sovereign grace have spurn'd,
Mercy's calls I've all withstood,
Trampled on redeeming blood,
Fearless of that fiery flood,
Where all the tares are burned.

Hating God, his word, his cause,
People, government, and laws.
My dear Redeemer, and his cross.
My guilt how great its load!
Loving sin, I scorned to pray;
Harder made my heart each day;
Wandering farther from the way
To glory and to God.

Light now bursts upon my eyes:
Now I see with sad surprise.
How vile I am, and w^ill arise.
And to my Father go;
"Father, I'm a wretch undone!
For my sins can ne'er atone;
But the merits of thy Son,
Can save from endless wo.''

I for Christ my Saviour pant,
Jesus, thou art all I want;
Be thou mine, and to me grant.
To sit at thy dear feet:
I thy yoke no longer fear,
I will all thy burden bear,
Wage with sin unceasing war,
Dear Saviour, I submit.