God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Album: Olney Hymns (1779)
Play Video


  • One of the most popular poets of the late 18th century, William Cowper (1731-1800) was a major influence on the Romantic poetry movement with his poems about everyday life and scenes of the English countryside.
  • Cowper and Anglican cleric John Newton both lived in the Suffolk village of Olney and were great friends. Cowper helped Newton with his religious services and they also run a weekly prayer meeting, for which they were in the habit of writing a new hymn to sing, some of which were included in their Olney Hymns collection.
  • The hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" was originally a poem written by William Cowper in 1773 titled "Light Shining out of Darkness." It was included six years later in their Olney Hymns collection. The first line and title phrase is now a well-known saying used to justify unfortunate or inexplicable events.
  • The words were inspired by an experience of sheltering from a thunderstorm under an oak tree on Yardley Chase near Cowper's Olney home.
  • Also published in the same Olney Hymns collection was John Newton's classic tribute to God's mercy, "Amazing Grace."
  • Amy Grant sang a version of the hymn for her 2005 Rock of Ages... Hymns and Faith album. Her recording was a melody coupling the tune of the hymn with William J. Kirkpatrick's 1900 interpretation of Habakkuk 2:20,"The Lord is in His Holy Temple."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")

Director Mark Pellington ("Jeremy," "Best Of You")Song Writing

Director Mark Pellington on Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," and music videos he made for U2, Jon Bon Jovi and Imagine Dragons.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.


SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Meet the "sassy basket" with the biggest voice in country music.

Taylor Dayne

Taylor DayneSongwriter Interviews

Taylor talks about "The Machine" - the hits, the videos and Clive Davis.

Philip Cody

Philip CodySongwriter Interviews

A talented lyricist, Philip helped revive Neil Sedaka's career with the words to "Laughter In The Rain" and "Bad Blood."

Superman in Song

Superman in SongSong Writing

Not everyone can be a superhero, but that hasn't stopped generations of musicians from trying to be Superman.