To keep the lamp alive

To keep the lamp alive

Author: William Cowper
Tune: ZURICH (Nageli)
Published in 72 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, Noteworthy Composer
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1 To keep the lamp alive
With oil we fill the bowl;
'Tis water makes the willow thrive,
And grace that fees the soul.

2 The Lord's unsparing hand
Supplies the living stream;
It is not at our own command,
But still derived from him.

3 Beware of Peter's word
Nor confidently say,
"I never will deny thee, Lord,"
But grant I never may.

4 Man's wisdom is to seek
His strength in God alone;
And e'en an angel would be weak,
Who trusted in his own.

5 Retreat beneath his wings,
And in his grace confide;
This more exalts the King of kings
Than all your works beside.

6 In Jesus is our store,
Grace issues from his throne;
Whoever says, "I want no more,"
Confesses he has none.

A Selection of Hymns, from Various Authors, Supplementary for the use of Christians. 1st Ed., 1816

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: To keep the lamp alive
Author: William Cowper
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


To keep the lamp alive. W. Cowper. [In Trial and Despondency.] Published in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. iii., No. 74, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "Dependence." In its original form it is in limited use. The extract from it beginning with stanzas iii., "Beware of Peter's word," is much more popular, and especially in America, where it appeared in Nettleton's Village Hymns, 1824.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



The Cyber Hymnal #11919
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The Cyber Hymnal #11919

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