1731–1800
portrait

November 15, 1731, Great Berk­hamp­stead, Hert­ford­shire, England.

April 25, 1800, East Dere­ham, Nor­folk, England.

St. Ni­cho­las church­yard, East Dere­ham, Nor­folk, Eng­land. Cow­per’s friend and hymn writ­ing par­tner John New­ton con­duc­ted the fun­er­al ser­vice.

portrait
illustration
Olney Cottage Prayer Meeting

Cowper (pro­nounced Coo­per), whose fa­ther was cha­plain to King George II, went through the mo­tions of be­com­ing an at­tor­ney, but ne­ver prac­ticed law.

He lived near Ol­ney, Buck­ing­ham­shire, the name­sake town of the Ol­ney Hymns, which he co-wrote with John New­ton, auth­or of Amaz­ing Grace. Cow­per al­so wrote po­et­ry, in­clud­ing The Negro’s Com­plaint, an an­ti-slav­e­ry work, and the 5,000-line The Task.

A Visit to Cowper’s Grave

I went alone. ’Twas summer time;
And, standing there before the shrine
Of that illustrious bard,
I read his own familiar name,
And thought of his extensive fame,
And felt devotion’s sacred flame,
Which we do well to guard.

Far from the world, O Lord, I flee.
How sweet the words appeared to me,
Like voices in a dream!
The calm retreat, the silent shade
Describe the spot where he was laid,
And where surviving friendships paid
Their tribute of esteem.

There is a fountain. As I stood
I thought I saw the crimson flood,
And some beneath the wave;
I thought the stream still rolled along,
And that I saw the ransomed throng,
And that I heard the nobler song
Of Jesus’ power to save.

When darkness long has veiled my mind,
And from these words I felt inclined
In sympathy to weep;
But smiling day has dawned at last,
And all his sorrows now are past;
No tempter now, no midnight blast,
To spoil the poet’s sleep.

O for a closer—even so,
For we who journey here below
Have lived too far from God.
Oh, for that holy life I said,
Which Enoch, Noah, Cowper led!
Oh, for that purer light to shed
Its brightness on the road!

God moves in a mysterious way;
But now the poet seemed to say,
No mysteries remain.
On earth I was a sufferer,
In heaven I am a conqueror;
God is his own interpreter,
And he has made it plain.

Anonymous

Cowper’s Grave

It is a place where poets crowned may feel the heart’s decaying;
It is a place where happy saints may weep amid their praying;
Yet let the grief and humbleness as low as silence can languish:
Earth surely now may give her calm to whom she gave her anguish.

O poets from a maniac’s tongue was poured the deathless singing!
O Christians, at your cross of hope a hopeless hand was clinging!
O men, this man in brotherhood your weary paths beguiling,
Groaned inly while he taught you peace, and died while ye were smiling!

And now, what time ye all may read through dimming tears his story,
How discord on the music fell and darkness on the glory,
And how when, one by one, sweet sounds and wandering lights departed,
He wore no less a loving face because so broken-hearted.

With quiet sadness and no gloom, I learn to think upon him,
With meekness that is gratefulness to God whose Heaven hath won him,
Who suffered once the madness-cloud to His own love to blind him,
But gently led the blind along where breath and bird could find him.

And wrought within his shattered brain such quick poetic senses
As hills have language for, and stars, harmonious influences:
The pulse of dew upon the grass kept his within its number,
And silent shadows from the trees refreshed him like a slumber.

Wild timid hares were drawn from woods to share his home-caresses,
Uplooking to his human eyes with sylvan tendernesses,
The very world, by God’s constraining, from falsehood’s ways removing,
Its women and its men became, beside him, true and loving.

And though, in blindness, he remained unconscious of that guiding,
And things provided came without the sweet sense of providing,
He testified this solemn truth, while phrensy desolated—
Nor man nor nature satisfied whom only God created.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  1. Almighty King! Whose Won­drous Hand
  2. As Birds Their In­fant Brood Protect
  3. By Whom Was Da­vid Taught?
  4. Bestow, Dear Lord, up­on Our Youth
  5. Billows Swell, the Winds Are High, The
  6. Breathe from the Gen­tle South, O Lord
  7. Dear Lord, Ac­cept a Sin­ful Heart
  8. Ere God Had Built the Moun­tains
  9. Far from the World, O Lord, I Flee
  10. Fierce Pass­ions Dis­com­pose the Mind
  11. Glory Gilds the Sac­red Page, A
  12. God Gives His Mer­cies to Be Spent
  13. God Moves in a Mys­ter­i­ous Way
  14. God of My Life, to Thee I Call
  15. Grace, Tri­umph­ant in the Throne
  16. Gracious Lord, Our Child­ren See
  17. Hark, My Soul, It Is the Lord!
  18. Heal Us, Em­man­u­el
  19. Hear, Lord, the Song of Praise and Pray­er
  20. Hear What God the Lord Hath Spo­ken
  21. His Mas­ter Taken from His Head
  22. Holy Lord God! I Love Thy Truth
  23. Honor and Hap­pi­ness Unite
  24. How Blest Thy Crea­ture Is, O God
  25. I Thirst, but Not as Once I Did
  26. I Was a Gro­vel­ing Crea­ture Once
  27. I Will Praise Thee Ev­ery Day
  28. Israel in An­cient Days
  29. Jesus, Wher­e’er Thy Peo­ple Meet
  30. Jesus, Whose Blood So Free­ly Streamed
  31. Lord, My Soul with Plea­sure Springs
  32. Lord Pro­claims His Grace Abroad, The
  33. Lord Re­ceives His High­est Praise, The
  34. Lord, Who Hast Suf­fered All for Me
  35. Lord Will Hap­pi­ness Di­vine, The
  36. My God! How Per­fect Are Thy Ways!
  37. My God! Till I Re­ceived Thy Stroke
  38. My Song Shall Bless the Lord of All
  39. My Soul Is Sad and Much Dis­mayed
  40. Newborn Child of Gos­pel Grace, The
  41. No Strength of Na­ture Can Suf­fice
  42. O for a Clos­er Walk with God
  43. O God, Whose Fav­or­a­ble Eye
  44. O How I Love Thy Ho­ly Word
  45. O Lord, My Best De­sire Ful­fill
  46. Of All the Gifts Thine Hand Be­stows
  47. Saints Should Ne­ver Be Dis­mayed, The
  48. Savior Hides His Face, The
  49. Savior! What a No­ble Flame, The
  50. Sin En­slaved Me Ma­ny Years
  51. Sin Has Un­done Our Wretch­ed Race
  52. Sometimes a Light Sur­pris­es
  53. There Is a Foun­tain Filled with Blood
  54. This Is the Feast of Heav’n­ly Wine
  55. Thy Man­sion Is the Chris­tian’s Heart
  56. ’Tis My Hap­pi­ness Be­low
  57. To Je­sus, the Crown of My Hope
  58. To Keep the Lamp Alive
  59. To Tell the Sav­ior All My Wants
  60. To Those Who Know the Lord I Speak
  61. Too Ma­ny, Lord, Abuse Thy Grace
  62. What Thou­sands Ne­ver Knew the Road!
  63. What Var­i­ous Hin­drances We Meet
  64. When Dark­ness Long Has Veiled My Mind
  65. When Ha­gar Found the Bot­tle Spent
  66. Winter Has a Joy for Me
  67. Write to Sar­dis, Sa­ith the Lord
  68. Ye Sons of Earth, Pre­pare the Plough
  1. My Lord, How Full of Sweet Con­tent