Friday, October 26, 2012

Unfolding Every Hour

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 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.

It's unclear whether Cowper invented the phrase in the first line (by which the poem is most commonly known) or is simply the earliest witness to a phrase used more commonly; but, of course, Cowper's popular poem has been a contributing factor to the widespread recognition of similar phrases. Like many of Cowper's hymns, it is chiaroscuro; Cowper suffered from severe depression, severe enough that he had attempted suicide several times. Thus a great many of Cowper's poems are about darkness; but, at the same time, they are also often about how it is never the whole story, and never has the last word.

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