Light Shining Out of Darkness by William Cowper

William Cowper (1731-1800), English poet.William Cowper (1731-1800) of England was a popular poet and hymnodist whose fans included William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was a friend of John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace.” Although it doesn’t look like it, Cowper’s name is pronounced koo-pər.

This beautiful hymn, published in the 1779 Olney Hymnal, is probably best known for the first two lines of the first stanza. The idea that “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform” endures in countless literary and pop culture references.

Here is the hymn, beautifully spoken and illustrated:

Light Shining Out of Darkness

by William Cowper

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 ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
GOD is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

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