Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

The great period of English hymnody was the Eighteenth Century during the First Great Awakening.  The four greatest hymn writers were Isaac Watts, John Newton, William Cowper, and Charles Wesley.  The people trying to write worship music today could learn a few things from those guys.  Think about the fact that Watts was also the author of a widely used logic textbook and Cowper an accomplished poet who would show up in English literature even if he had not written a single hymn.  That might tell you something about our current difficulties.

Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts


Newton, Cowper, Wesley, Watts

Worked within their garden plots;

Domesticated by their toil

Exotic plants in English soil:

Pungent spices, soothing balms,

Cadences of David’s psalms;

Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme,

Words of God in English rhyme.

Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley

Weeded, hoed, the Garden bears

But few of thistles, thorns, or tares–

Rather, carrots, beans, and maize,

Solid sustenance of praise;

Waving grain and curling vine,

Wheat for bread and grapes for wine;

‘Most every plant beneath the sun–

But leeks and garlic grew they none.

John Newton
John Newton

Much sand now through the glass has spilled;

They lie beneath the ground they tilled.

But still the seeds they sowed abide

And thrive, transplanted far and wide:

Where e’er a congregation sings,

Anew from earth their produce springs.

Such honor still their Lord allots

To Newton, Cowper, Wesley, Watts.

William Cowper
William Cowper

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD



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