A little bird I am

A little bird I am,
  Shut from the fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing
  To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.
Nought have I else to do,
  I sing the whole day long;
And He whom most I love to please
  Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing;
But still He bends to hear me sing.
Thou hast an ear to hear
  A heart to love and bless;
And though my notes were e'er so rude,
  Thou wouldst not hear the less;
Because Thou knowest as they fall,
That love, sweet love, inspires them all.
My cage confines me round;
  Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
  My heart's at liberty;
For prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
O it is good to soar
  These bolts and bars above!
To Him whose purpose I adore,
  Whose providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind.
Ana Lara

Storrs, Connecticut, United States

Jeanne M. B. de la Mothe—also known as Madame Guyon—wrote these words while in a French prison, probably sang more songs “in the night” than any other hymn writer in the latter period of the 1600’s. She was born in Montagris, France, in 1648, and died at the age of 69, in 1717, in the old city of Blois, on the Loire Valley in central France.

She was born into an affluent family of nobility and at age 15, her father made arrangements for her to be married to the wealthy aristocrat Jaques Guyon. She was married for 12 years and had 5 children of which 3 survived. At 28, she became a widow. At the time of Louis XIV, when society was dazzling but corrupt, she was ridiculed for her piety and devotion to God. This blossomed into a life-long ministry and the writing of sacred poetry.

She became a mystic, and her book Spiritual Torrents is an indication of her ardent love for God. It was in this way that Divine Love came to her. In the spiritualized Book of Canticles, a pious Franciscan priest wrote, “seek God in your heart, and you will find Him. ” She became the personification of these words by the deepening of visions and raptures during her private times with God and living before Him.

She began to teach as well as enjoy the new light so different from the glitter of the traditional worship. But her “aggressive holiness” became oppositional to the established Church. Her writings were branded as “Quietism” (the heresy of elevating contemplation over meditation) and therefore suffered persecution and imprisonment. Jaques Bénigne Bossuet, a court preacher to Louis XIV, became her great adversary. Father François Fenelon was her friend, but he could not protect her. She was shut-up like a lunatic in 3 different prisons until after 4 years in the Bastille, expecting to be executed for heresy, she was banished to a distant province for the rest of her days.

Madame Guyon had most definitely the martyr spirit. Today because religious persecution of that nature is almost unknown, we can dimly understand the triumph of her soul under suffering and her utter absorption in God.

She wrote the hymn below when she was exiled after her imprisonment:

My Lord, how full of sweet content

I pass my years of banishment.

Where’er I dwell, I dwell in Thee,

In heaven or earth, or on the sea.

To me remains nor place nor time:

My country is in every clime;

I can be calm and free from care

On any shore, since God is there.

While place we seek or place we shun,

The soul finds happiness in none;

But, with a God to guide our way,

‘Tis equal joy to go or stay.

William Cowper, and also Dr. Thomas Upham, translated from the French the religious poems of Madame Guyon. This hymn is Cowper’s translation.

The tune written for the aforementioned hymn is entitled “Alsace” which has a gentle and sympathetic melody. It is a choral arranged from a sonata of Ludwig Von Beethoven, born in Bonn, Germany, 1770, and died in Vienna March, 1827. Like the author of the hymn, Ludwig felt the hand of affliction when he became totally deaf soon after his 40th birthday. But, in spite of this privation, he kept on writing sublime strains that only his soul could hear. He is famous for his oratorio, “The Mount of Olives, ” and his nine “Symphonies” among others.


Nice poem


Maigo, Lanao Del Norte, Philippines

Praise the Lord

Elizabeth Malan

London, United Kingdom

I feel this is a Covid 19 song. May the Lord teach us in our confined spaces to find Him to be there with us.

He is so close to us, for if we sings to Him, He is not only with us in the cage but even inside of us. He is one with us- our Emanuel God with us!

Tim Ou

Austin, Texas, United States

I sit and sing to him who placed me there.


Teresópolis, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

This hymn portraits the imprisonment experiences of M. Guyon and makes very well to remember when we're suffering for the Lord's sake. Maybe one day I pass through the same way too.


Esperance, New York, United States

Wow, so wonderful to hear this hymn. My son read it as a poem in school. I recognized her name and was delighted that it can be sung. Thank you for providing the music to hear it played.


浙江, China



Nova Iguaçu, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

This hymn is wonderful!

I enjoyed it so much! Really we're prisoners in the Lord and we have the real liberty in Him.

"Well pleased a prisoner to be,

Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee".

This lines remembered me a verse that says: "I love my master, […] I will not go out free". (Exodus 21:5, King James Version)

How good is to be a prisoner in the Lord! Amen!


Nova Iguaçu, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The best cage that exist is our Lord. Praise the Lord.

Young people, no matter how long your trial may be, do not be disappointed. You need to recognize that your trial is of God. No one can be enthroned without being tried and tested. Although we like to be enthroned immediately, God would say, "The time is not yet. Do not talk to Me about enthronement. You need to be put into the dungeon." If you seek the Lord, the Lord will put you into a dungeon. Perhaps all who are around you—your wife, your children, the elders, and the brothers and sisters—intend to respect you; however, whatever they do only serves to put you into a dungeon. We have nothing to say about this. Without the dungeon, we cannot ascend to the throne. Do not be a dungeon dropout; stay in the dungeon until you graduate and receive the crown. You need the last two years.

Although I may have no intention of putting you in a dungeon and although you may have no intention of putting me in a dungeon, what actually happens is that we put one another into a dungeon. When you were married, did you intend to put your wife into a dungeon? Surely you had no such intention. But this is just what you have done. Unintentionally and unconsciously, we put others into a dungeon. My children have done this to me. Sometimes they tell me how much they love me, but within myself I say, "Your love puts me into a dungeon." Nevertheless, we need to say, "Hallelujah for the dungeon! Although I have been here for ten years, I need to stay another two years." Again I say, do not drop out of the dungeon. Stay there and stay there gloriously, with praises to the Lord, not with the gnashing of teeth.

Madame Guyon was one who could praise the Lord in her dungeon. She even wrote a poem in which she likened herself to a bird in a cage. Here is the first stanza:

A little bird I am,

Shut from the fields of air,

And in my cage I sit and sing

To Him who placed me there;

Well pleased a prisoner to be,

Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.

Madame Guyon grew to love her cage, which was her dungeon.