The famous Methodist hymn writer Charles Wesley was deeply burdened by certain spiritual problems. He was reflecting on them in his study when suddenly, through the open window, he saw a sparrow pursued by a large hawk. Through the window fluttered the frightened bird, into Wesley's arms. Inspired by this experience, Wesley penned the words for this hymn. The version best known today is sung to the tune of "Aberystwyth" written by Welsh composer and musician Joseph Parry in 1879.
Among the artists to have covered this hymn are the gospel group The Edwin Hawkins Singers in the early 1970s.