[su_note note_color=”#d5d5d5″ text_color=”#91201f”]Wilder Adkins’ Oak & Apple is graciously available free to Christ and Pop Culture members through our partnership with the artist.[/su_note]

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 and skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

Have you ever felt like you’re hearing an old hymn for the very first time? The old familiar melody from some sentimental, century-old gospel number enters your ear, and you kind of roll your eyes and think, Here we go again. But then, for some reason, this time you actually hear the words:

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.

Maybe it’s the arrangement. Maybe hearing a new interpretation sets those stodgy, 19th-century Presbyterian lyrics ablaze in a way you’d never imagined. Maybe it’s the singer. Maybe you hear how his voice quivers with conviction, and you’re reminded of what it means to actually believe. Maybe, for whatever reason, the words are just what you needed to hear in that moment. Perhaps it’s that old Reformed hobgoblin, divine providence.

Or maybe it’s the Spirit.

This is my Father’s world;
Oh, 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?
The Lord is king! Let the heavens ring!
God reigns! Let the earth be glad!

I’ve had that moment—the one when suddenly the dusty words from a forgotten hymnal leapt off the page and danced in front of me, bowing before an ancient altar and exulting in the air of the high places; when at once I was transported into the musician’s living room and somehow, simultaneously, to an old-time tent revival; when the voices of the saints all sang together as one, and I knew, for a moment, that my hopes were theirs, and that my fears had been buried in the same dust at the foot of the same rugged cross.

This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze
God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world—
A wand’rer, I may roam.
Whate’er my lot, it matters not—
My heart is still at home.

With Oak & Apple from folk musician Wilder Adkins—now available for free to CaPC members—I had that experience more than once. Adkins weaves together classic revival tunes, a contemporary hymn or two, and his own originals, using only the sparest of arrangements (acoustic guitar, a bit of piano, and maybe a fiddle or some harmonies from Jenny the Ghost Girl) to bring out a beauty so delicate I was afraid it would shatter if I got too close.

This is my Father’s world!
The battle is not done!
Jesus who died shall be satisfied
And earth and heaven be one!

This is the hope that we cling to, eternal yet ethereal, but crystallized for just a moment in sparkling pianos and shimmering guitars. A few drops of providence, falling like rain into a parched desert. Grasp it while you can.

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