How blest thy creature is, O God

How blest thy creature is, O God

Author: William Cowper
Published in 32 hymnals

Author: William Cowper

William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper"; b. Berkampstead, Hertfordshire, England, 1731; d. East Dereham, Norfolk, England, 1800) is regarded as one of the best early Romantic poets. To biographers he is also known as "mad Cowper." His literary talents produced some of the finest English hymn texts, but his chronic depression accounts for the somber tone of many of those texts. Educated to become an attorney, Cowper was called to the bar in 1754 but never practiced law. In 1763 he had the opportunity to become a clerk for the House of Lords, but the dread of the required public examination triggered his tendency to depression, and he attempted suicide. His subsequent hospitalization and friendship with Morley and Mary Unwin provided emotional st… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: How blest thy creature is, O God
Author: William Cowper

Notes

How blest Thy creature is, O God. W. Cowper. [The Blessedness of Peace with God.] Southey in his Memoirs and Correspondence of William Cowper, 1854, vol. i. pp. 99-104, gives an account of Cowper's insanity, his residence at St. Albans under the care of Dr. Cotton, and his partial recovery. At the beginning of his attack Cowper wrote a most painful poem, the nature and burden of which will be gathered from the following (the third) stanza, which reads:—

"Man disavows, and Deity disowns me,
Hell might afford my miseries a shelter;
Therefore, hell keeps her ever-hungry mouths all
Bolted against me."

In contrast to this despair Southey states that

"During this [the latter part of his stay with Dr. Cotton] part of his abode at St. Albans, he again poured out his feelings in Terse, and the contrast is indeed striking between what he called this specimen of his first Christian thoughts, and that song of despair [noted above] which cannot be perused without shuddering. He cast his thoughts in the form of a hymn, which he entitled ' The Happy Change,' and took for his text part of a verse in the Revelations, 'Behold, I make all things new.'"

The hymn composed under these circumstances, in July, 1765, is full of peace and hope, as evidenced in stanza iv.:—

"The soul, a dreary province once
Of Satan's dark domain,
Feels a new empire formed within,
And owns a heavenly reign."

The publication of the hymn in 6 stanzas of 4 lines with Cowper's original title, "The Happy Change," was in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Book iii., No. 44. In full or in part it is given in several hymn-books, especially in America. Sometimes it begins:—"How blest is man, O God," as in the American Unitarian Hymns for the Church of Christ, Boston, 1853.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

Timeline

Instances

Instances (1 - 32 of 32)
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A Choice Selection of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the use of Christians #711

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A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for the Sanctuary #227

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A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for the Use of Universalist Societies and Families 16ed. #606

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A Collection of Psalms and Hymns #132

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A Collection of Psalms and Hymns #226

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A Selection of Sacred Poetry #226

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A Selection of Sacred Poetry #226

Chapel Hymns #d227

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Hymns for Christian Devotion #258

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Hymns for Christian Devotion #258

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Hymns for the Church of Christ (3rd thousand) #278

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Hymns for the Church of Christ. (6th thousand) #278

Hymns, Selected from Various Authors, for the Use of Young Persons #d88

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Plymouth Collection #a50

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Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes; for the use of Christian Congregations #50

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Psalms and Hymns, for Christian Use and Worship #H385

The American Seaman's Hymn Book #d83

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The Baptist Hymn and Tune Book #50

The Christian Psalter #d225

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The Lord's Songs #LXXXVII

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The Mozart Collection of Sacred Music #96

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The New Hymn Book, Designed for Universalist Societies #163

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The New Hymn Book, Designed for Universalist Societies #163

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The Springfield Collection of Hymns for Sacred Worship #367

The Universalist Hymn Book #d195

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The Universalist Hymn-Book #332

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