Sometimes a light surprises

Representative Text

1 Sometimes a light surprises
the child of God who sings:
the light of one who rises
with gentle, healing wings.
When comforts are declining,
God grants the soul again
a season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.

2 In holy contemplation
with joy we shall pursue
the theme of God’s salvation,
and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow
we cheerfully can say,
let the unknown tomorrow
bring with it what it may.

3 It can bring with it nothing
but God will bear us through.
Who gives the lilies clothing
will clothe the people, too.
Beneath the spreading heavens
no creature but is fed:
the one who feeds the ravens
will give the children bread.

4 Though vine and fig tree neither
their yearly fruit should bear,
though all the fields should wither,
nor flocks nor herds be there,
yet God, the same abiding,
through praise shall tune my voice,
for while in love confiding
I cannot but rejoice.

Source: Voices Together #618

Author: William Cowper

William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper"; b. Berkampstead, Hertfordshire, England, 1731; d. East Dereham, Norfolk, England, 1800) is regarded as one of the best early Romantic poets. To biographers he is also known as "mad Cowper." His literary talents produced some of the finest English hymn texts, but his chronic depression accounts for the somber tone of many of those texts. Educated to become an attorney, Cowper was called to the bar in 1754 but never practiced law. In 1763 he had the opportunity to become a clerk for the House of Lords, but the dread of the required public examination triggered his tendency to depression, and he attempted suicide. His subsequent hospitalization and friendship with Morley and Mary Unwin provided emotional st… Go to person page >


Sometimes a light surprises. W. Cowper. [Joy and Peace in Believing.] Published in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Book iii., No. 48, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines, and headed "Joy and Peace in Believing." It is in O. XJ. in its full and in an abbreviated form. There are also two centos therefrom in modern collections:—(1) "In holy contemplation, we sweetly then pursue," in the American Sabbath Hymn Book, 1858, and later editions; and (2) "Thy children, Lord, lack nothing," in Snepp's Songs of Grace & Glory, 1870.

-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



Instances (1 - 23 of 23)

Ancient and Modern #519


Celebrating Grace Hymnal #56

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Common Praise #572

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CPWI Hymnal #475

Text InfoTextAudio

Glory to God #800

Hymnal #603

Hymns Ancient and Modern, New Standard Edition #108

Hymns and Psalms #571a

Hymns and Psalms #571b

Hymns of the Saints #154

Hymns of the Saints #155

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Hymns to the Living God #309

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Redemption Hymnal #483

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Rejoice in the Lord #159

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The A.M.E. Zion Hymnal #496

The Baptist Hymnal #316

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The Covenant Hymnal #94


The Cyber Hymnal #6199


The Hymnal 1982 #667


Together in Song #128

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Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #621

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Trinity Psalter Hymnal #487


Voices Together #618

Include 376 pre-1979 instances
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