O Father, You Are Sovereign

Throughout her life, E. Margaret Clarkson was plagued by pain; initially from migraines, accompanied by convulsive vomiting, and then arthritis—two ailments that accompanied her continually. This pain would be accompanied by other forms of suffering throughout her lifetime, especially severe feelings of loneliness and isolation. At the same time, Clarkson’s life was also marked by a love for hymns. She found comfort and strength in hymns, both in their contents and in the community of saints that wrote these hymns. As Clarkson later explained, through hymns she began to see the church “as one continuous, living stream of the grace of God” in which she had a place. “O Father, You are Sovereign,” was published late in Clarkson’s life in 1982, in the midst of a burst of writing after her early retirement from teaching. Severe spinal problems compelled her to retire in 1973, at the age of 58, and though plagued by pain, she wrote most of her books in the decade that followed.

O Father, you are sovereign
in all the worlds you made;
your mighty word was spoken,
and light and life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons
and bounds the ocean’s shore,
sets stars within their courses
and stills the tempest’s roar.

O Father, you are sovereign
in all affairs of man;
no pow’rs of death or darkness
can thwart your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending,
supreme in time and space,
you hold your trusting children
secure in your embrace.

OFather, you are sovereign,
the Lord of human pain,
transmuting earthly sorrows
to gold of heav’nly gain.
All evil overruling,
as none but Conqu’ror could,
your love pursues its purpose–
our souls’ eternal good.

O Father, you are sovereign!
We see you dimly now,
but soon before your triumph
earth’s ev’ry knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us,
our faith springs up anew:
our sovereign Lord and Saviour,
we trust and worship you!


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