William Cowper: Depression and the Art of Hymn Writing

Tuesday, 01 Jul 2014

"Instead of feeling embarrassed by brothers and sisters who struggle with desperately weak assurance, with mental illness, or with traumas so severe that brains have been altered and minds shattered, perhaps we should recognize these as the true heroes of our faith."
Sometimes God's grace is not a pretty sight. We love to romanticize the gospel, but at times, when God lays hold of people who are caught in the grip of the saddest vignettes of human experience, the end product is something we would hardly want to sing about, let alone live through ourselves. So it is with the puzzling life of William Cowper, renowned poet and hymn writer of the seventeenth century. The beginning of his story fits well with our fancies of gospel transformation. Sad, depressed, suicidal person meets wonderful Christian psychiatrist who loves the gospel. Sad ...

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