551. Oh, for a Closer Walk with God

1 Oh, 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.

Text Information
First Line: Oh, for a closer walk with God
Title: Oh, for a Closer Walk with God
Author: William Cowper (1772)
Meter: CM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ; ;
Topic: Commitment & Dedication; Walk with God; Lamb of God (4 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: John B. Dykes (1875)
Meter: CM
Key: G Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 3-4 = Ps. 51:12, Job 29:2-3
st. 5 = Heb. 12:14

William Cowper (PHH 434) wrote this text on December 9, 1769, during the illness of his long-time friend and housekeeper, Mrs. Unwin. In a letter written the next day Cowper voiced his anxieties about her condition and about what might happen to him if she died. Saying that he composed the text "to surren¬der up to the Lord" all his "dearest comforts," Cowper added,

Her illness has been a sharp trial to me. Oh, that it may have a sanctifying effect!. . . I began to compose the verses yesterday morning before daybreak, but fell asleep at the end of the first two lines; when I awoke again, the third and fourth were whispered to my heart in a way which I have often experienced.

The text was published in Richard Conyers's Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1772) and, with some revision, in the Olney Hymns (1779). There it had the heading "Walk with God" and included a reference to Enoch in Genesis 5:24. The original fourth stanza is omitted.

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.

Liturgical Use:
For occasions of aspiration, hope, and encouragement for a more intimate walk with God; a fine testimonial hymn.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Composed by John B. Dykes (PHH 147), BEATITUDO was published in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1875), where it was set to Isaac Watts' "How Bright Those Glorious Spirits Shine." Originally a word coined by Cicero, BEATITUDO means "the condition of blessedness."

Like many of Dykes's tunes, BEATITUDO has a convincing melodic contour and a somewhat chromatic harmonization. Sing the outer, framing stanzas in unison and the middle ones in parts. Use just enough organ to keep this hymn moving. Maintain one pulse per measure.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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