A Modern Adaptation of Thompson’s ‘Hound of Heaven’


The Hound of Heaven is perhaps one of the more profound poems written on the topic of God’s pursuit of man. The original poem was written by Francis Thompson, a man who was prescribed opium for a sickness and ended up becoming addicted to it. Francis was a man who understood the depth of his depravity. In the hound of heaven, the main character is a hare being pursued by a hound. The poem ends on a startling note.

The poem appears to have been inspired by Martin Luther who, some 350 years earlier, referred to God as the Hound of Heaven. A description of the surety of God’s preserving those who are in Christ and the inability for the true believer to be lost to Death. God’s pursuit of man, Luther wrote, is relentless.

This is a modern adaptation . . . a retelling of Thompson’s original. The story of a young woman who pursues pleasure only to find herself irresistibly drawn to the very one she has been fleeing.


Watch, The Hound of Heaven: A Modern Adaptation

11 thoughts on “A Modern Adaptation of Thompson’s ‘Hound of Heaven’

  1. Lenette

    We learned this poem in Catholic School. Not this one but the original. It is still a good poem. I think he was influenced by Luther. I remember my instructor going to great lengths to demonstrate that it had nothing to do with Luther’s way but the more he talked the more he sounded like he was digging a hole. Sure, there are things in it that Catholics can agree with but they focus on the love and not the keeping us. From my experience at least as a life long Catholic there is not any hope of being kept by God. I lived in constant guilt and fear of death because I could at once die with mortal sin hanging over me.

    • ajcerda

      I think you are right Lenette. It seems unlikely that he used the exact same terminology as Luther and defined it the same. It seems as if the entire poem is an expository poem on Luther’s thought. This is why it is so popular among the reformed.

  2. James

    Meh. I’m not so sure about this whole thing of God pursuing man. God is sovereign. He doesn’t chase after people unable to catch them. He gets what he wants as soon as he wants it.Just my thoughts.

    • ajcerda

      James, think of this like Hosea pursuing Gomer. I’m mot sure that I’m following you when you say that God isn’t unable to catch someone. That isn’t how the poem or this adaptation have portrayed God. In the end, God’s grace was irresistible. I don’t share your view of God strong arming people… I believe he wins us over and his winning of us is as sure as his love for us. For many of us, this period with God pursuing us and our subsequent running from him is a long journey. Sure, some have an instantaneous moment in time where they first hear the gospel and respond; but that is not as common as modern day evangelists want us to believe.

  3. James

    “He required nothing beyond acceptance” & “though you would not see it, I am the one you have been seeking all your life” the last one presumably spoken by God. Both are not reformed but are anti-reformed. God does require something. He requires repentance. And seeking all her life? “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God”.

    • ajcerda

      Hello again James! We may have a different understanding of what it means to be ‘reformed’. The reformed theology that I hold to upholds the idea that God does not require anything of us to be saved. It is an act of God’s grace alone. The repentance that you speak of is an evidence and fruit of regeneration but not a prerequisite. I’m not familiar with any reformed tradition that teaches that we must come to God with something to offer in order for God to save us. In fact, if it taught that I would outright reject it as a biblical teaching because. Rather, reformed doctrine teaches that we are unable to even repent without first being made alive. It is interesting in Romans, as you quoted, we are told that no one seeks God.. and yet in Matthew we are told to seek and we shall find. I don’t think this is a contradiction at all. I think seeking is also a fruit of regeneration. That aside, the seeking spoken of in this short movie is not her seeking after God per se, but she was seeking happiness, meaning, forgiveness, purpose, love…etc. all of those things she was seeking are found ultimately in God. So while she was not seeking God (in fact was running away from Him) he is the full realization of what she was looking for. I think this is what was meant.

      • James

        Okay, yeah. I see it now. You are right. Sometimes I get passionate about repentance and obedience and out the cart before the wagon. I watched it again and didn’t see anything about us choosing God before he pursued us and didn’t see anything about salvation not resulting in a changed life. Hey, did you know that ND Wilson also made a film of this poem? I just read that last night. I can’t find it anywhere though.

  4. Terry Booth

    It’s a good poem and a fairly good adaptation. The dog was cheesy but I understand the point.

  5. Sara O.

    This is probably one of the better known poems of its time. At least in theological circles. It speaks to the vastness of God’s love and his relentless pursuit of sinners. Just like the hymn you posted the other day. This poem is reformed through and through.

  6. Rena

    Ok this is really my life in 14 minutes wow. Such a beautiful story!

  7. Renee Loomis

    Does anyone know if this fall video shows a song or anything else at the end? I’m looking for a copy of this but without anything else added at the end.

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