Scripture Verse

You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand. John 13:7


William Cowper (1731–1800)

Words: Will­iam Cow­per, in Twen­ty-Six Let­ters on Re­li­gious Sub­jects, by John New­ton, 1774.

Music: Dun­dee Scot­tish Psalt­er, 1615 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

This is re­por­ted­ly the last hymn Cow­per ev­er wrote, with a fas­cin­at­ing (though un­sub­stan­ti­at­ed) sto­ry be­hind it.

Cowper oft­en strug­gled with de­pres­sion and doubt. One night he de­cid­ed to com­mit sui­cide by drown­ing him­self. He called a cab and told the dri­ver to take him to the Thames Ri­ver. How­ev­er, thick fog came down and pre­vent­ed them from find­ing the ri­ver (an­oth­er ve­rsion of the sto­ry has the dri­ver get­ting lost de­lib­er­ate­ly).

After driv­ing around for a while, the cab­by fin­al­ly stopped and let Cow­per out. To Cow­per’s sur­prise, he found him­self on his own door­step: God had sent the fog to keep him from kill­ing him­self. Even in our black­est moments, God watch­es ov­er us.


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.