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Hark My Soul It Is The Lord Hymn - William Cowper, 1731-1800

Hark My Soul It is The Lord Hymn Story

WILLIAM COWPER (1731 - 1800) is regarded as one of the greatest English poets. He contributed  a considerable number of hymns to the wealth of our English hymns.


His life was one of great suffering and was tragic to a high degree.

His early school life was extremely unhappy. Later, while studying law, he fell in love with Theodora Cowper, who was his own cousin. His devotion to her he expressed in several love poems.

But to Cowper's great sorrow their marriage was forbidden by her father.

He suffered from mental illness at certain points in life. .

Though he recovered, his life was beclouded throughout by his mental depression, and he occasionally lapsed into the most desperate forms of melancholy. 

Despite his great affliction, he wrote many of our most beloved hymns. His association with John Newton stimulated his interest in hymn-writing, even though it may not have added much wholesome cheer to his darkened soul.

The hymn "Hark, my soul! it is the Lord" is perhaps the tenderest that fell from his pen. The last verse expresses simply, but exquisitely, the anxieties and yearnings of his spiritual life: 

Lord, it is my chief complaint 
That my love is weak and faint; 
Yet I love Thee and adore : 
Oh for grace to love Thee more! 

It is such openness with the Lord that has distinguished William Cowper from other hymn writers.

This hymn was inspired by the story of the encounter between Jesus Christ who had just risen from the dead and the apostle Peter as found in John 21: 15 -17. In this passage Jesus asks Peter if he loved Him and then asks him to feed His sheep.

He uses this story as a starting point but later applies to his own spiritual challenges.

Actually when it was published in Olny Hymns (1779) the hymn was prefaced with the title Lovest thou Me? John 21:16.

He also uses other Old and New Testament references that he then applies to Jesus Christ. For instance in verse three he paraphrases Isaiah 49:15, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you".

It was first published in 1768 and has now been published in a further 624 hymnals. The present tune was provided by John B Dykes in 1862.

Hark My Soul It is The Lord Hymn Lyrics

1 Hark, my soul, it is the Lord;
'tis thy Saviour, hear his word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
'Say, poor sinner, lov'st thou me?

2 I delivered thee when bound,
and, when wounded, healed thy wound;
sought thee wandering, set thee right,
turned thy darkness into light.

3 Can a woman's tender care
cease towards the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
yet will I remember thee.

4 Mine is an unchanging love,
higher than the heights above,
deeper than the depths beneath,
free and faithful, strong as death.

5 Thou shalt see my glory soon,
when the work of grace is done;
partner of my throne shalt be:
say, poor sinner, lov'st thou me?

6 Lord, it is my chief complaint
that my love is weak and faint;
yet I love thee, and adore;
O for grace to love thee more!

Hark My Soul It it The Lord Video.




For links to other old and popular hymns' stories and lyrics visit here.

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