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 >
The Saviour, what a noble flame. W. Cowper. [Passiontide.] Published in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. ii., No. 55, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed "Jesus hasting to suffer." In its original form it is seldom used. In Cotterill's Selection, 1810, hymn No. 4, begins, "See! what unbounded zeal and love." This is composed as follows:—
Stanza i. "See what unbounded zeal," &c. Cotterill.
Stanza ii. “Goodwill to man, and zeal," &c. Cowper.
Stanza iii. "With all His sufferings," &c. Cowper.
Stanza iv. "By His obedience," &c. Cotterill.
Stanza v. "Lord, fill our hearts," &c. Cowper.
Stanza vi. "With love like Thine," &c. Cotterill.
On the withdrawal of the 8th ed. of Cotterill's Selection, 1819, stanzas v. and vi. were rewritten, and the cento in this revised form was given in the 9th edition, 1820, and is that which is in common use (as in Snepp's Songs of Grace & Glory, 1872) at the present time. It is common use is "With all His sufferings full in view." This begins with stanzas iii. of the original.
MARTYRDOM was originally an eighteenth-century Scottish folk melody used for the ballad "Helen of Kirkconnel." Hugh Wilson (b. Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, c. 1766; d. Duntocher, Scotland, 1824) adapted MARTYRDOM into a hymn tune in duple meter around 1800. A triple-meter version of the tune was fir…