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SANDY WALKER WRITES
William Cowper was a talented poet and wordsmith who penned hymns and poems that still touch the hearts of people today. Perhaps his greatest legacy lies in the fact that he learned to trust God, even when life is hard.
Cowper (pronounced “Cooper”) was born in England in 1731, the son of one of King George II’s chaplains. William’s early life overflowed with sadness. Three older siblings died while he was very young. His mother died a little later, when he was only six. Shortly thereafter, William was sent to a boarding school. He was bullied badly there, and ostracized. Those years were a misery, and they cast a shadow on the rest of his childhood.
All of the sadness and trauma took its toll on Cowper. After studying to practice law, he succumbed to depression before he could take the exam. He spent several months in an asylum. When he recovered enough to leave the asylum, he went to live with Morley and Mary Unwin, with whom he lived for 22 years. He spent his days gardening and writing. He penned some of his most enduring hymns during this time.
One of Cowper’s most famous hymns is “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” In all six verses Cowper carefully and skillfully weaves truths from the Bible into his lyrics. The simple words convey great understanding of human nature, as well. Two verses admonish the fearful who dread the clouds of life to look beyond the darkness of circumstances to see God’s “smiling face.” It’s the first verse, though, that is best known.
“God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.”
In this verse Cowper eloquently captures one of the great truths of life—sometimes we just don’t understand why the storms--the bad things--happen. His succinct but powerful words show great perception; Cowper knew times of personal confusion and fear in his own life. He knew the struggle to overcome them.
William Cowper continued to battle depression for the rest of his life, at times falling nearly into despair for a season. Through all of those struggles, he wrote poems and hymns as an outlet for his soul. During times of some of his greatest struggles, he wrote some of his best work.. He stands today not only as one of the great English hymn writers, but also as an example of one who trusted and triumphed even when life is hard.
I'm Sandy . . .
I write crisp, accurate, engaging copy and content marketing for my B2B and B2C clients. My favorite topics are vacation rentals, urban homesteading, sustainability, and inspirational posts.