I had forgotten about this song, I’ve sung O for a Closer Walk with God just enough to be familiar with the tune. Lift up your Hearts hymnal brought it back to my attention.
O For a Closer Walk with God, Lyrics
O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!
Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus, and His Word?
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.
Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.
Author and History
William Cowper, an English poet, is the author of this hymn. I found this quote on the Cyber hymnal “
I began to compose them yesterday morning before daybreak, but I fell asleep at the end of the first two lines. When I awaked again, the third and fourth verses were whispered to my heart in a way I have often experienced.” He wrote those words to his aunt.
After being institutionalized for insanity, he found peace in evangelical Christianity. He wrote many of the Olney Hymns and was friends with John Newton. Becoming involved with the anti-slavery movement he wrote The Negro’s Complaint.
Born in England, his mother died in his early childhood while birthing his brother John. His father was a rector. Depression followed William Cowper throughout his life. HymnTime has a list of the hymns he wrote.
Turning to fervent evangelical Christianity was pivotal in the life of William Cowper. Due to his depression, faith became important, as a result we have hymns with which to praise God. I look at that and I’m happy about that. Happy that God took a life that was miserable and turned it into a blessing for others. I’m not happy that Cowper struggled, but I’m happy that God was able to use him well and provide him with a measure of peace. It’s a good thing don’t you think?