Hymn Study: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands


Another childhood favorite! I remember singing this song in Sunday School and how comforting it was to know that we were in God’s hands. I remember visualizing God literally holding the world in the palm of his hands. Though the lyrics are short and simple it holds a powerful message. We can trust God because he is in control.

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands Picture

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While I was very familiar with the lyrics of the song, I knew nothing about the background of the song. My research revealed that this was an African-American spiritual. The song would have first been passed down orally and had multiple variations both in the text and the tune. However, as the song began being printed in various hymn books it became more standardized.

4 He’s got you and me, brother, in his hands. . . .
He’s got the whole world in his hands.

The repetitive nature of this song makes it a very easy one for children to memorize and sing along with. It also lends itself really well to hand motions. We always enjoyed using our fingers to symbolize rain or pretending to rock a ‘little bitty baby’ in our arms when we sang this song growing up.

This song lends itself well to adding a bit of nature study by talking about the Earth or the wind and rain. You could even add extra verses to the song about other things that we know God has ‘in his hands’.

If you want to add a little art to this study, you can check out the He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands lesson with Nana from You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels.This is a fun way to engage your little artists in hymn study or your musicians in art. You have access to this lesson if you are an You Are An Artist Clubhouse Member   You can also have them draw what they see in their minds as they listen to the song. For young children you might trace their hands and do some type of hand print art work.

I hope that you have enjoyed this study and join us each month for a new hymn study!

Hymn Study Resources:

Lyrics and Background

He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands (sung by kids w/ scrolling lyrics)

He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands (Mahalia Jackson)

He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands (Choir)

Song with video (Laurie London)

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Hymn Study Fact Sheet

He’s Got The Whole World Copywork


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