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

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

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

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.”


An excerpt from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem:


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.


  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 What God the Lord Hath Spok­en
  20. His Mas­ter Taken from His Head
  21. Ho­ly Lord God! I Love Thy Truth
  22. Honor and Happiness Unite
  23. How Blest Thy Crea­ture Is, O God
  24. I Was a Groveling Crea­ture Once
  25. I Will Praise Thee Ev­ery Day
  26. Israel in Ancient Days
  27. Jesus, Where’er Thy Peo­ple Meet
  28. Jesus, Whose Blood So Free­ly Streamed
  29. Lord, My Soul with Pleasure Springs
  30. Lord Pro­claims His Grace Abroad, The
  31. Lord Receives His Highest Praise, The
  32. Lord, Who Hast Suffered All for Me
  33. Lord Will Hap­pi­ness Di­vine, The
  34. My God! How Per­fect Are Thy Ways!
  35. My God! Till I Received Thy Stroke
  36. My Song Shall Bless the Lord of All
  37. My Soul Is Sad and Much Dismayed
  38. Newborn Child of Gospel Grace, The
  39. No Strength of Nature Can Suffice
  40. O for a Closer Walk with God
  41. O God, Whose Favorable Eye
  42. O How I Love Thy Ho­ly Word
  43. O Lord, My Best Desire Fulfill
  44. Of All the Gifts Thine Hand Bestows
  45. Saints Should Never Be Dismayed, The
  46. Savior Hides His Face!, The
  47. Savior! What a Noble Flame, The
  48. Sin Enslaved Me Ma­ny Years
  49. Sin Has Undone Our Wretched Race
  50. Sometimes a Light Surprises
  51. There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood
  52. This Is the Feast of Heav’nly Wine
  53. Thy Mansion Is the Christ­ian’s Heart
  54. ’Tis My Happiness Below
  55. To Jesus, the Crown of My Hope
  56. To Keep the Lamp Alive
  57. To Tell the Savior All My Wants
  58. To Those Who Know the Lord I Speak
  59. Too Ma­ny, Lord, Abuse Thy Grace
  60. What Thousands Never Knew the Road!
  61. What Various Hindrances We Meet
  62. When Darkness Long Has Veiled My Mind
  63. When Hagar Found the Bottle Spent
  64. Winter Has a Joy for Me
  65. Write to Sardis, Saith the Lord
  66. Ye Sons of Earth Prepare the Plough


  1. My Lord, How Full of Sweet Content