1. God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm. 2. Deep in unfathomable mines Of never failing skill He treasures up His bright designs And works His sovereign will. 3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy and shall break In blessings on your head. 4. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. 5. His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower. 6. Blind unbelief is sure to err And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain.
Lyrics: William Cowper
Music: Scottish melody
William Cowper, 1731–1800
This hymn text was written by the English poet, William Cowper. Cowper's life was filled with mental anguish, which included an eighteen month stay in an insane asylum and several attempted suicides. During his time in the asylum, Cowper began reading the Bible. At the age of thirty-three he had a genuine conversion experience. Yet he was periodically haunted by deep depression, voices and visions, and the overwhelming thought that God had forsaken him and would doom him to hell.
But between these times of melancholia, William Cowper was a gifted writer. For nearly two decades he worked closely with John Newton in Olney, England, and eventually their combined talents produced the famous Olney Hymns hymnal. In this ambitious collection of 349 hymns, 67 were written by Cowper, including such favorites as “O For a Closer Walk With God” and “There Is a Fountain.”
“God Moves in a Mysterious Way” was originally titled “Conflict: Light Shining Out Of Darkness.” It is thought to be Cowper’s final hymn text and a reflection of God’s leading throughout his own lifetime. There is even speculation that it was written following a failed attempt at suicidal drowning.