Friday, December 03, 2010

The Most Brilliant Hymn Ever Written (so far)

This could likely be the most brilliant English hymn ever written.

That is what I think, anyway.

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

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

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.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

- William Cowper, 1774.


  1. Actually, your song about Challies' book should take top spot, but I appreciate your humility in not pointing that out. Cowper wasn't bad either, though!

  2. I love the paradox between the values that God is (by definition) "unfathomable" and that God will (by definition) "make it plain" -- that's the unspeakable beauty and irony of faith right there.

  3. I love this hymn too, especially in the context of Cowper's life. It's ministered to me huge at a number of points in my life.

    That being said, I think the song could be improved. The reality is that the Bible tells us over and over (in narrative, in poetry, in apocalypse, everywhere!) that God moves in mysterious ways. But in Scripture, this always points us to the greatest mystery: the cross & resurrection of Jesus. The hymn never takes us there.

    The 'vindication' of God's wisdom and trustworthiness in the midst of what appears to be defeat is the cross.

    I think someone needs to write another verse drawing us to the reality of God's mysterious workings, as shown in the cross, the climax of all God's revelation.

  4. My favorite all time hymn as well. Here's a rendition that I wrote. SDG!