May you be encouraged by hearing a bit of the song’s background. The writer of the song is William Cowper, who lived in the 1700’s, and was a friend of John Newton (the author of “Amazing Grace”). William Cowper suffered with extreme depression his entire life. In his thirties, following an attempt at suicide, he embraced the gospel of Christ through the influence of a Christian doctor. Yet even after coming to faith, he continued to battle intense discouragement throughout the course of his long life. He did not understand why God did not lift the burden of his spirit, and even today, those who study his life do not fully understand what God’s purposes were in allowing his mental and emotional suffering to continue.
But, in the midst of, and no doubt influenced by, the intensity of his struggle with depression, William Cowper wrote hymns that brilliantly magnify the truth of God’s goodness in all circumstances. His most well-known words are “There is a Fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins/And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”, showing his fight to cling to the truth of the gospel in the midst of his miserable circumstances. And, as you will hear in this next hymn, William Cowper, despite his circumstances, also embraced the truth of God’s endless goodness in all that He ordains:
“With deepest wisdom, highest love,
And never failing skill
[God] masterminds His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.”
As far as we know, Cowper wasn’t able to see the purpose or taste the sweetness of God’s will until he reached heaven. But he left a legacy that encourages us to trust God for his grace regardless of our circumstances. We hope that as we sing, you will use his words to reflect on the wisdom and goodness of God’s work in your life.Another great hymn written by William Cowper is "The Saints Should Never Be Dismayed"...
|1. The saints should never be dismayed,|
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect his aid,
The Saviour will appear.
2. This Abraham found, he raised the knife,
3. Once David seemed Saul's certain prey,
|4. When Jonah sunk beneath the wave|
He thought to rise no more;
But God prepared a fish to save,
And bear him to the shore.
5. Blest proofs of pow'r and grace divine,
6. Wait for his seasonable aid,