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God Is Working His Purpose Out

God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year

Author: Arthur Campbell Ainger (1894)
Published in 89 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1 God is working this purpose out,
as year succeeds to year;
God is working this purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be:
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

2 From utmost east to utmost west,
where human feet have trod,
by the mouth of many messengers
goes forth the voice of God:
“Give ear to me, ye continents,
ye isles, give ear to me,
that the earth may be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.”

3 Let us go forth in the strength of God,
with the banner of Christ unfurled,
that the light of the glorious gospel of truth
may shine throughout the world.
Let us all fight with sorrow and sin
to set the captives free,
that the earth may be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

4 All we can do is nothing worth
unless God blesses the deed.
Vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God gives life to the seed.
Yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

Source: Voices Together #770

Author: Arthur Campbell Ainger

Ainger, Arthur Campbell, M.A., son of the Rev. F. A. Ainger, incumbent of Hampstead, Middlesex; born in 1841, educated Trinity College, Cambridge, 1st Class Class. Trip. 1864, Assistant Master at Eton 1864-1901. Author of Eton Songs, 1901-2; Carmen Etonense, Vale, &c, and joint author with H. G. Winkle, M.A., of an English-Latin Verse Dictionary. Mr. Ainger's hymns in common use are the following :— 1. God is working His purpose out. [Missions.] Written and first published in 1894, with Dedication to Archbishop Benson. It was given in Church Hymns, 1903, Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1904, and other collections. 2. God of our Fathers, unto Thee. [National Thanksgiving.] Included in English Hymnal, 1906. 3. Let all our bret… Go to person page >


Scripture References:
st. 2 = Isa. 42:4
st. 4 = Ps. 127:1-2
ref. = Isa. 11:6-9

In 1894 Arthur C. Ainger (b. Blackheath, England, 1841; d. Eton, England, 1919) wrote the text in five irregular stanzas for use by the boys at Eton College, where Ainger was a popular schoolmaster from 1864-1901. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, Ainger wrote numerous songs and hymns for use at Eton.

Dedicated to Edward W. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, the text was first issued as a leaflet and then published in the Hymn Book of the Church Missionary Society (1899). The Psalter Hymnal includes the original stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 5.

Broadly defined as a missions hymn, this text is united by the closing biblical line of each stanza (similar to a refrain): "when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea." "God Is Working" provides a clear testimony that God is the Lord of history, that he "is working his purposes out" (st. 1) even when we cannot fathom his ways. But it also presents a challenge: to press the cause of Christ through¬out the whole world (st. 2), to let the gospel of Christ set free those who are captive to sin and sorrow (st. 3), and to make sure our deeds are worthy of God's blessing (st. 4).

The entire text affirms the passage from Philippians 2 (12-13), where we are commanded to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in YOU to will and to act according to his good purpose."

Liturgical Use:
As a hymn of divine sovereignty and providence; worship that emphasizes the public task or kingdom work of Christians in the world.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



Instances (1 - 29 of 29)

Ancient and Modern #646

Anglican Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #246

Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #481

TextPage Scan

Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #235

AudioPage Scan

Common Praise #444

Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #221

Page Scan

Complete Mission Praise #189

Hymnal #638

Hymns and Psalms #769

Page Scan

Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #191


Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise #235

Hymns of the Saints #324

Hymns Old and New #172

Text InfoTune InfoTextAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #594


Rejoice in the Lord #425


RitualSong #646

Scripture Song Database #1198

Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #225

Sing Glory #451

The Covenant Hymnal #692


The Cyber Hymnal #1953


The Hymnal 1982 #534

TextPage Scan

The New English Hymnal #495


The Worshiping Church #750


Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #74


Voices Together #770


Worship (3rd ed.) #507


Worship (4th ed.) #862


Worship and Rejoice #564

Include 60 pre-1979 instances
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