Posted by: chuckbumgardner | October 14, 2007

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Tonight, I sang with a mixed quartet the excellent hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” by William Cowper, a friend of John Newton. Cowper (pronounced “cooper”) wrestled against despair throughout his life, and toward the end of his life wrote this hymn under the title “Conflict: Light Shining Out of Darkness.” John Piper’s biographical sketch of Cowper is here and Cowper’s poetry is here.

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.

We sang the hymn during the observance of the Lord’s Supper.  Originally, we had not known our singing would be on this occasion, or we would have chosen something more fitting for communion.  Upon reflection, however, I thought that an excellent example of the dark times to which Cowper alludes in the hymn would be the time between the death and resurrection of Christ.  What devastation and darkness that must have been for his disciples!  But the Father certainly intended and accomplished great good through that dark time, which only became evident later.  “Behind a frowning providence, he hides a smiling face.”



  1. Hi, Chuck. I actually had the same reflection myself!

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