Friday, January 18, 2008

Also amazing

In Tuesday's post about the hymn 'Amazing Grace', I wrote, "William Cowper was struggling with depression...[and] sank into a suicidal melancholy which lasted several months. He recovered to a large degree. But afterward, he no longer attended the church at Olney. He never wrote another hymn. He did not loose his faith in God, but evidently lost all in himself."

Many people are familiar with Cowper's unstable state of mind -- something he apparently struggled with throughout most of his life. Other's may have no knowledge of it. Such knowledge is unnecessary to understand the meaning of Cowper's hymns. But knowing the trouble he suffered makes all the more amazing to me hymns such as "Walking with GOD" and "Light shining out of darkness".

Hymn 3, Walking with GOD. Gen 5:24
O! for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heav'nly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Hymn 15, Light shining out of darkness.
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Perhaps it is easier for us to sing "O! for a closer walk with God, A calm and heav'nly frame" when the world inside our minds is mostly calm. Or to sing "Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face" when we have seen much more of the smiling face than the frowning providence. Regardless of the storm, may we be blessed to know HIM who rides upon it. May we learn that "The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flow'r."

* Wm. Cowper wrote "Walking with GOD" in 1769 when his adoptive mother, Mrs. Mary Unwin, was seriously ill and believed to be at the point of death. Various stories surround his "Light shining out of darkness" and when it was written, some of which may be apocryphal.

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