I Am Not Skilled to Understand

This is Aaron Shust’s version of Dora Greenwell’s wonderful hymn, “I Am Not Skilled to Understand,” written in 1873. The music and chorus lyrics are by Shust; the verses are Greenwell’s.

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior



  1. You have omitted what to me is a key verse:
    And oh, that He fulfilled may see
    The travail of His soul in me,
    And with His work contented be,
    As I with my dear Savior!

  2. Sorry, John. All verses were powerful, but I had a hard time getting all 5 verses into a song that was already almost 5 minutes long. And the way the new cadence went, “TRUH-vale” sounded awkward, and frankly I personally found the other 4 verses (one because the Pre-Chorus) more powerful.

    I’m so glad that the verse is key for you and wish there had been a way to fit it in. Feel free to add it if you ever lead it! 🙂

    • The praise team at the bible church in a small suburb of Chicago where I go (and play piano) is going to do this song for Easter this year. It’s awesome and your setting is awesome.

      I think we’ll use it as rewritten without the “travail” verse, but it’s certainly possible to use the word more euphoniously with the schwa-less short-a pronunciation “tra-vail” (offered as an alternative by several online dictionaries). Or one might substitute the more modern word “trouble” which is less obscure and still biblically correct.

    • Good choice of verses!

      Aaron, what are the alternate lyrics that the female is singing in the chorus? I would like to have my church choir sing that part, but I cannot make it out and I cannot find it online! Thanks for your help.

      If anyone else can help me, I would really appreciate it! 🙂

      • 5 years later… Candi Pearson-Shelton sang “My God My Savior” (the title, flipped) then “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” over the Chorus on the original recording. Christy Nockels simply sang a gorgeous harmony on my 2017 live version. 🙂 sorry for the wait!!! 😦

  3. I am familiar with Aaron Shust’s “My Savior, My God,” and I just discovered Dora Greenwell’s hymn in an old hymnal. What a nice surprise! I really like the new tune with those words.

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