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The Church of St John at Skala Fourkas, Chalkidiki, Greece.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

In October 1773, William Cowper was broken by a nightmarish attack of the depression that had clouded his life for almost twenty years. His neighbour the Revd John Newton had encouraged Cowper to write hymns to keep the depression at bay, but after his breakdown he never wrote another. Samuel Greatheed, who preached at Cowper’s funeral, said that this, his last, was composed during a solitary walk in the fields, and expressed a faith that always reasserted itself once the fits had passed.

The Mysteries of Providence

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.

William Cowper (1731-1800)