Please give today to support during one of only two fund drives we run each year. Each month, Hymnary serves more than 1 million users from around the globe, thanks to the generous support of people like you, and we are so grateful. 

Tax-deductible donations can be made securely online using this link.

Alternatively, you may write a check to CCEL and mail it to:
Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546


In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Stanza 1 sets the theme for this song in pointing to the plan of God to embrace us, which was formed before “the first light shone”. Paul, in Ephesians 1:3-14, explains it more fully.  Other references such as John 6:47-51, Romans 8:37-39, and I Thessalonians 4:13-18 reinforce this truth.

Stanza 4 – the story of Hagar is found in Genesis 16:7-16 (and Galatians 4:21-31); the story of Sarah is contained in Genesis 17:15-22, 18:1-15, and 21:1-7; and that of Abraham is found in Genesis 12, 15, 17 and supplementary passages.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Rare is the song that reaches back into eternity, back into the “deep, unbounded darkness” of the world before creation, to note the work of God in “embracing us,” his children, as his own. In doing so, this song echoes the teachings of the Canons of Dort I, 7: “Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, God chose in Christ to salvation a definite number...” The same is professed in Belgic Confession, Article 16.


In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Introductory/Framing Text

This text was commissioned by Princeton Theological Seminary for its bicentennial celebration in the fall of 2012. The original text is Chinese, translated by Francis P. Jones. For the bicentennial celebration at Princeton Seminary, Martin Tel, the worship professor, asked Mel Bringle to work with Chi Yi Chen, formerly on the faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary and a colleague on the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to create a new translation. First, Chi Yi Chen provided a literal translation of the Chinese characters and then assisted Mary Louise Bringle in the creation of the new paraphrase, also using the original English text, while keeping the 87874[4]7 meter.
The tune, DIVINUM MYSTERIUM, is a plainsong, or chant, associated with the “Divinum mysterium” text in manuscripts dating from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. The tune was published in triple meter in Theodoricis Petri's Piae Cantiones (1582). Some hymnals retain the dance-like triple meter, while others keep the original unmeasured form of the chant.

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Faith and Petition
God of Hagar, God of Sarah, God of nomad Abraham;
God of Miriam, God of Moses, fiery pillar, great I AM:
lead us homeward, lead us homeward, to the love feast of the Lamb,
evermore and evermore in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Tune Information

E♭ Major



In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Author Information

Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle (b. 1953) is Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and chair of the Humanities Division at Brevard College (Brevard, NC). A teacher at heart and a theologian by training (with a Ph.D. from Emory University and an assortment of publications in pastoral theology), she began writing hymn texts in 1999. Since that time, she has won a number of international hymnwriting competitions. GIA Publications, Inc. has published two single-author collections of her hymns (Joy and Wonder, Love and Longing in 2002, and In Wind and Wonder in 2007), as well as anthems written in collaboration with composers like William Rowan, Sally Morris, and others. Her texts and translations are included in publications from numerous denominations, including Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopalian, United Church of Canada, and Church of Scotland. She served as President of The Hymn Society and was chair of the committee that prepared Glory to God, the 2013 hymnal for the Presbyterian Church USA.
— GIA Publications, Inc. (
You have access to this FlexScore.
Are parts of this score outside of your desired range? Try transposing this FlexScore.
General Settings
Stanza Selection
Voice Selection
Text size:
Music size:
Transpose (Half Steps):
Contacting server...
Contacting server...
Questions? Check out the FAQ

A separate copy of this score must be purchased for each choir member. If this score will be projected or included in a bulletin, usage must be reported to a licensing agent (e.g. CCLI, OneLicense, etc).

This is a preview of your FlexScore.
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us