On Eagles Wings (You who dwell)

This song was written and composed by American Roman Catholic priest Fr Jan Michael Joncas. It is now widely used in Catholic, mainline Protestant and Pentecostal churches, especially in America. (In Australia and New Zealand, Frank Andersen's setting is better known).

Based on Psalm 91 and Isaiah 40:31, it was written in 1979 when the father of one of Joncas' good friends died - and the first public performance was at the funeral.  It was later recorded and released by North American Liturgy Resources.  The song extends the scriptural text, using the metaphor of eagle with strong caring wings to represent God. There has been discussion whether the title should be "On Eagle's Wings" or "On Eagles' Wings". The original intention was the first (Eagle's - meaning the wings of one eagle, metaphorically God) - but an argument for "Eagles'" can also be made.

The song is particularly popular for funerals and memorial-services, as a reminder of God’s presence in sorrow-filled times.

The verses were written with the intention that they would be sung by a trained singer and so are challenging in both their range and setting. But many congregations have developed such a strong emotional connection to the song that the manage to sing it all, despite the challenges. It is not universally popular, however, and many classically-trained musicians dislike it intensely:  some regard it as the late 20th century equivalent of Bring Flowers of the Rarest or To Jesus All Hearts Burning.

A Spanish-language translation, En Sus Alas, is also now published.

The tune, also composed by Joncas, has a 4/4 time signature, and was originally published in the key of D. The first few notes of the verse are c B C BB AGFGA.

A preview of the sheet music is available on OCP's website, and many different arrangements are now available.


This section may contain affiliate links: I earn from qualifying purchases on these. Free downloads are provided where possible (eg for public domain items).

buy and download sheet music from Sheet Music Now


Solo singer with backing:

Female soloist with piano backing:

Solo singer - self-accompanied on guitar:


The lyrics are copyright so cannot be reproduced here. But they are currently available on this website.

The song has 3 verses, and a four-line chorus which is repeated after every verse. A rough outline is:
1 You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord ...

And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of his hand.

2. The snare of the fowler will never capture you ...

3. For to his angels he's given a command ....

See more ...

1. You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
who abide in his shadow for life,
say to the Lord: "My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!"

And he will raise you up on eagle's wings,
bear you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun,
and hold you in the palm of his hand.

2. The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
and famine will bring you no fear:
under his wings your refuge,
his faithfulness your shield.

3. For to his angels he's given a command
to guard you in all of your ways;
upon their hands they will bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone

No comments:

Post a Comment