All Is Well
Through the love of God our Saviour
AR HYD Y NOS
Text: Origins. This song by Mary (Bowly) Peters (1813–1856) was first published in Hymns Intended to Help the Communion of Saints (1847), now lost, then repeated in Edward Walker’s Psalms and Hymns for Public and Social Worship (Cheltenham: Wight & Bailey, 1855 | Fig. 1). The text was in three stanzas of eight lines, including the interlinear refrain, “All will be well … All, all is well … All must be well.”
In this collection, the authors were not named on the pages, but in the index this hymn was credited to “Mrs. Peters.”
In the Handbook to the Church Hymnary (Oxford: University Press, 1935), p. 237, the editors reported Peters’ original 1847 text at stanza 2, line 5, as reading “still to God confiding,” a very minor change.
Little is known about Peters, except she was married to John William Peters (1791–1861), rector of Quenington, Gloucestershire, and she was an avid writer, most especially in writing seven volumes of The World’s History from the Creation to the Accession of Queen Victoria.
Ann Divine, writing in The Worshiping Church: Worship Leaders’ Edition (Carol Stream, IL: Hope, 1991), offered this assessment of the hymn:
“Through the love of God our Savior” is a text of comfort that speaks of the security believers have in Christ. While today’s society tends to expect the “quick fix” in emotional healing, Mary Peters’ hymn acknowledges that Christians will have difficulties (“tribulation”) in life that can produce severe anxiety. She first paints a picture of God’s plan to insulate his people from devastating hoplessness: “Strong the hand stretched out to shield us, all must be well.” The Apostle Paul advised his fellow believers at Philippi: “Do not be anxious for anything. … And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Through his Son, God has provided a constant, faithful protector whose blood heals and whose grace seals believers. And who is their guide? The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, leads them to spiritual maturity, to holiness of life. … The hymn is appropriate in any service where the emphasis is on the providence of God (p. 610).
Tunes. The most common tune, the one for which this text was probably written, is the Welsh tune AR HYD Y NOS.
One common alternative to the Welsh tune is SOUTHGATE by Thomas B. Southgate (1814–1868), first published as sheet music in 1858 with Reginald Heber’s text, “God that madest earth and heaven” (Fig. 2). The tune has also been called EVENSONG in some collections.
Another setting, more recent, was created by Matthew S. Smith for the band Indelible Grace, called “All must be well.” This was recorded on their album Wake Thy Slumbering Children (2007) and published as sheet music through their website (Fig. 3). Smith’s version includes a few small alterations to the text, such as the reduction of the second refrain from “All, all is well,” to just “All is well,” the change from “Holy” to “steadfast” in stanza 2, and the change from “Both” to “Yes” in stanza 3.
by CHRIS FENNER
for Hymnology Archive
11 February 2019
Edwin Hatfield, “Mary [Bowly] Peters,” The Poets of the Church (NY: Anson D.F. Randolph, 1884), pp. 496-497: Google Books
John Julian, “Mary Peters née Bowly,” A Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1892), pp. 891-892: Google Books
James Moffatt & Millar Patrick, “Through the love of God our Saviour,” Handbook to the Church Hymnary (Oxford: University Press, 1935), p. 237.
Ann Divine, “Through the love of God our Savior,” The Worshiping Church: Worship Leaders’ Edition, ed. Donald Hustad (Carol Stream, IL: Hope, 1991), no. 610.
W. B. Lowther & Rosemary Mitchell, “Mary Peters [née Bowly]” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
J.R. Watson, “Through the love of God our Saviour,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
“All must be well,” Indelible Grace Hymn Book: