Posted by: rcottrill | May 25, 2012

Under His Wings

Words: William Orcutt Cushing (b. Dec. 31, 1823; d. Oct. 19, 1902)
Music: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)

Wordwise Hymns (William Cushing)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: At the present time, I have no specific blog on this gospel song. The Wordwise Hymns link will give you a bit about the author. Ira Sankey, who wrote the tune, says it was one of his later creations.

What would you do if you were a concert pianist and suddenly lost the use of your fingers? That happened to Annie Johnson Flint. Or what would you do if you were a pastor, and a preacher of the gospel, and suddenly lost your voice–permanently? That happened to William Cushing. What would your attitude be toward life? Toward God?

Pastor Cushing cried out to the Lord, in his deep distress. The Lord answered prayer, but not likely in the way he expected. He still had the condition that prevented him from speaking, but God opened the door to a whole new ministry that extended his influence for Christ. With it, he could reach not just hundreds or thousands of people, but millions! He found he had the ability to write hymns, and he eventually wrote more than 300 of them.

He was not even fifty years old when his disability began. About twenty-five years later, he wrote Under His Wings, based on the words of Psalm 17:8, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” Many passages speak of the wings of the Almighty. Of course, the Almighty is a spirit Being (Jn. 4:24). As such, He doesn’t have literal wings. It’s poetic imagery, used to represent some aspect of God’s care.

CH1) Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Things such as the Lord’s support (Exod. 19:2), His healing power (Mal. 4:2), and even His judgment (Jer. 49:22) are portrayed in this way. But by far the most common use of the symbol is to picture God’s protection and loving care. Jesus used it that way (Matt. 23:37). And this use of the wings of God is found over and over in the Psalms. In addition to Psalm 17:8, we have:

¤ “How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Ps. 36:7).

¤ “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Ps. 57:1).

¤ “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah [Think of that!]” (Ps. 61:4).

¤ “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice” (Ps. 63:7).

¤ “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge” (Ps. 91:4).

What a wonderful assurance we have when we put our trust in God. The Lord will always care for His own, not allowing anything to touch our lives that will not ultimately be for our blessing and His glory (Rom. 8:28).

CH-3) Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

1) The Bible is quite clear that even children of God, living by faith, can go through times of trial. What is the use, then, of trusting God, if these things are going to happen anyway?

2) Have you had some recent experience in which you sensed the sheltering wings of God?

Wordwise Hymns (William Cushing)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. This is a sermon in itself! Very inspirational to me and uplifting to my spirit to know that someone who has lost the ability to speak, as a preacher is still determined to spread the word about what God will do for you in time of need! When one door closes, God will open another and empower you to carry out His plan for you!
    People may listen to what you say, but they will also watch what you do! You can show them better than you can tell them! Action can speak louder than words! And in the case of him literally preaching, the lyrics of the hymns he wrote carried the message forward to many more through the sound of music! Hallelujah!
    When he lost his ability to speak, he could have given up! He didn’t follow the statement: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, be Didn’t! He stepped out on faith and used the other resources that God gave him and continued to spread to message of God’s love and protective power in song! Praise The Lord!
    I love that song, Under His Wings! Right now I am safely abiding Under His Wings! Thank you Jesus! May his music continue to bless the hearts of many! Amen!

    • Thanks for your comments. I pray they will encourage others who feel they have been “put on the shelf,” in terms of some work for the Lord. May He open a new door of service for them–perhaps one they never even considered before. I have a friend who believed, in her early years, that she was to be a missionary in Africa. That door seemed to slam shut on her. But, instead of becoming bitter, she turned her passion for world missions into prayer and support for those who served in other lands. She was a great blessing to me as a pastor too.


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