When William Cowper, author of the hymn text There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood, lost his mother at the tender age of six, he began a lifelong battle with severe depression. His sensitive nature gave him a deep appreciation for literature and poetry but his father wanted him to become an attorney. The strain of law studies eventually became too much for William and, just before his final exam, he had a full mental breakdown.
Cowper’s friends suggested he recover at St. Alban’s asylum where found some peace reading the Bible. Although he continued to battle depression throughout the rest of his life, Cowper used his deeply intense emotions to write poetry and hymns and, together with Amazing Grace author John Newton, published a hymnal in 1779 which included There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.
Following his mental breakdown, Cowper developed a lifelong lisp and stutter which inspired a hopeful verse in this hymn about triumphing over adversities:
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.
Cowper’s life can be considered rather bleak and this hymn’s text can be construed as a bit gruesome (let’s be honest: real down-in-the-trenches faith truly is messy) however I created this piano arrangement with a lighter feel. The early American melody used by There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood suggested a bluesy sound to me and I kept it breezy to honor the simple melody line creating a fun and relaxed setting to play. The hymn’s message makes this piano arrangement perfect for Lent – which is just around the corner – but it’s also suitable throughout the church year. Enjoy! 🙂