The message of this hymn is peace, something we wish for in our hearts, our families and our world. This hymn is a prayer, as many hymns are, and begins with a very traditional phrase for beginning prayers: “Father in heaven…”
The first verse speaks of the love our Father in Heaven has for us and thanks him for “peace abiding.” The second verse requests peace in the heart of every follower, “Peace in thy world, and joy to hearts despairing.” The third verse calls on the God of our fathers to “strengthen every nation in thy great peace where only is salvation.” As cultures and countries clash, we so fervently pray for this, just as Angus Hibbard did over 200 years ago.
There is a dip to the minor key in the second phrase of each verse:
Hear these thy children thru the world resounding…
Peace in thy world, and joy to hearts despairing.
In thy great peace where only is salvation.
Each of these phrases begins in the major key and dips to the minor key in measures 6-8. This lends a definite poignancy to these important phrases. “Hear these thy children”… please hear these thy children. “Peace in the world, and joy to hearts despairing”… please, dear Father, bring joy and peace to the despairing hearts. “In thy great peace where only is salvation”… the only place for true peace is in thy salvation.
I love how the minor key makes those phrases stand out and you just feel them so much more!
History of “Father in Heaven”
Angus S. Hibbard (1860-1945), writer of this hymn’s text, was a pioneer in the telephone industry. In 1886, he went to New York to become General Superintendent of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. In 1893, he became General Manager of the Chicago Telephone Company (predecessor of the Illinois Bell Telephone Company). He held that position until 1911 and retired in 1915. Mr. Hibbard was very ingenious as a leader in the development of the long-distance phone service, creating several inventions to increase its capabilities and performance. He even designed the original logo of the Bell Telephone Company, the blue bell sign, still in use today.
Friedrich F. Flemming (1778-1813), composer of the music for this hymn, was a physician in Berlin, Germany, and wrote music for a men’s choral society there.
Congregation Choir Arrangements
Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook. This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir. It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.
Listen to our arrangements below. You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction. The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.
FATHER IN HEAVEN – with vocal countermelody – PURCHASE HERE
FATHER IN HEAVEN – with instrumental countermelody – PURCHASE HERE
You can also purchase our arrangements of this hymn as a BUNDLE HERE. This bundle includes 15 copies of the full score with vocal countermelody, 10 copies of the full score with instrumental countermelody, 10 copies of the vocal countermelody score only, 5 copies of the instrumental countermelody score only, unlimited piano practice mp3 tracks and unlimited vocal practice mp3 tracks.
Angus S. Hibbard’s business was communication, and in that he excelled. No matter how marvellous the inventions of his day, or ours, we can see that he knew that prayer rose above them all as the greatest form of communication, and the greatest path to peace.