THERE IS A FOUNTAIN
William Cowper, 1731–1800
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)
William Cowper is viewed by some as one of the finest of all English writers. But Cowper’s emotional life was one of great turmoil. At an early age he was directed by his father to study law. Upon completion of his studies, however, the prospect of appearing for his final examination before the bar so frightened him that it caused a mental breakdown and even an attempted suicide. Later he was placed in an insane asylum for 18 months. During this detention, he one day read from the Scriptures the passage in Romans 3:25 that Jesus Christ is “set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Through his reading of the Bible, Cowper soon developed a personal relationship with Christ and a sense of forgiveness of sin. This was in 1764, when he was 33 years old.
Three years later, Cowper was invited to move to Olney, England, where John Newton pastored the parish Anglican Church. It was here for nearly two decades that Newton and Cowper had a close personal friendship. In 1799 their combined talents produced the famous Olney Hymns hymnal, one of the most important single contributions made to the field of evangelical hymnody. In this ambitious collection of 349 hymns, sixty-seven were written by Cowper with the remainder by Newton.
“There Is a Fountain” was originally titled “Peace for the Fountain Opened.” The hymn, with its vivid imagery, is based on the Old Testament text, Zechariah 13:1—“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.”
Only eternity will reveal the hosts who, through the singing of this hymn, have been made aware of the efficacy of Christ’s complete atonement.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its pow’r, till all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more.
E’er since by faith I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.
When this poor lisping, stamm’ring tongue lies silent in the grave, then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.
For Today: John 19:34; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:12–14
Carry the joy of “redeeming love” as your day’s theme.