1 O for a closer walk with God,
a calm and heavenly frame,
a light to shine upon the road
that leads me to the Lamb!
2 Where is the blessedness I knew
when first I sought the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
of Jesus and his Word?
3 What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
the world can never fill.
4 The dearest idol I have known,
whate'er that idol be,
help me to tear it from thy throne
and worship only thee.
5 So shall my walk be close with God,
calm and serene my frame;
so purer light shall mark the road
that leads me to the Lamb.
Although Cowper frequently battled depression, doubt, and melancholy, this text speaks of a very intimate walk with the Lord. That walk is rooted in Scripture (st. 1), rejoices in conversion (st. 2-3), and denounces all idols that would usurp God's sovereignty (st. 4). The text concludes with a return to the prayer of the first stanza, but now that prayer is sung with increased confidence and serenity.
Psalter Hymnal Handbook
This song reminds us of the reality that we, though being children of God, do still wander from him, lose the sense of his presence, and need to return. Stanzas 2-4 are the prayer of a believer who has lost the sense of a one-time close walk with God. The Canons of Dort V, 4 teaches us that even true believers are led astray by the desires of the flesh, of the world and of Satan, and therefore are called to watch and pray that they may be restored to a “closer walk with God.”