Footprints (poem)

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"Footprints in the Sand" redirects here. For other uses, see Footprints in the Sand (disambiguation).
A picture of the banks of the Colorado River. One side of the Grand Canyon is visible on the right, while some footprints are visible in the sand.

"Footprints", also known as "Footprints in the Sand", is a popular allegorical text written in prose.


This popular text describes a dream in which the person is walking on a beach with God. They leave two sets of footprints in the sand behind them. Looking back, the tracks are stated to represent various stages of this person's life. At some points, the two trails dwindle to one, especially at the lowest and most hopeless moments of the character's life. When questioning God, believing that God must have abandoned his follower during those times, God gives the explanation: "During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

Authorship and origins[edit]

The original authorship of the poem is disputed, with dozens of people claiming to have penned it. Rachel Aviv in a Poetry Foundation article[1] discusses the various claims and suggests that the source of this poem is the opening paragraph of Charles Haddon Spurgeon's 1880 sermon "The Education of the Sons of God".[2]

June Hadden Hobbs suggested that its origins lie in Mary B. C. Slade's 1871 hymn "Footsteps of Jesus" as "almost surely the source of the notion that Jesus' footprints have narrative significance that influences the way believers conduct their life stories ... it allows Jesus and a believer to inhabit the same space at the same time. [...] Jesus travels the path of the believer, instead of the other way round".[3]

Margaret Fishback (Antolini), whose light verse appeared regularly in popular American magazines from the 1930s to the 1960s, had no connection to "Footprints", although her name confusingly resembles that of one claimed author, Canadian Margaret Fishback Powers. Powers is among the contenders who have resorted to litigation in hopes of establishing a claim.


Several songs have been based on the poem. In 1983, Cristy Lane released country gospel version of the song called "Footprints in the Sand". The song peaked at #64 on Billboard's U.S. Country chart and #30 on the U.S. Christian chart.[4]

In 2003, the poem was the basis for the song "Footprints" on Beg for Mercy, the debut album of the hip hop group G-Unit.

Per Magnusson, David Kreuger, Richard Page, and Simon Cowell wrote a song based on the poem, called "Footprints in the Sand", which was recorded by Leona Lewis.[5] It appears on Lewis's debut album Spirit. Another song inspired by the poem called "Footprints" was recorded by Dancehall/Reggae group T.O.K.

The poem was also used in the memorial service for Air France Flight 447 on 3 June 2009.[6]

The poem is also used in the 1999 movie Outside Providence.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aviv, Rachel. "Enter Sandman: Who wrote footprints?". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  2. ^ Spurgeon, Charles Haddon (10 June 1880). The Education of the Sons of God (PDF). Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 
  3. ^ I sing for I cannot be silent: the Feminization of American Hymnody, 1870-1920, June Hadden Hobbs, p. 123
  4. ^ "Cristy Lane chart". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "Leona to release Sport Relief song". Virgin Media. 2008-01-31. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  6. ^ "Archbishop Of Paris Press Release". Air France. 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 

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