Iris' Archives, March 2019 

William Temple Prominant Person


(tem'p'l) 1881-1944 Anglican Archbishop successively of York and of Canterbury, a theologian, and a leader in the formative period of the 20th Century Ecumenical movement. An aggressive adherent of social reform, he made the application of Christian philosophy to current problems a main task of his life. He crusaded against slums, usury, dishonesty and greed in business.

Hymn and Hymn Writer

O for a closer walk with God

Oh that / were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me Job xxix 2

0 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, 0 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.

William Cowper 1769

The Terrible Affliction of Insanity

To lose one's reason is surely the most awful affliction that can be endured by any human being. Yet from such a terrible experience the Church of God has gained one of her most wonderful hymns. The poet Cowper was a deeply religious man, but became insane for a time in 1773, in October of which year he attempted to commit suicide by drowning in the River Ouse at Olney, in Buckinghamshire.

His friend, the Rev. John Newton, Vicar of Olney, has pointed out that even this attempt was a proof of his perfect submission to the will of God; for, he says, " it was solely owing to the power the enemy had of impressing upon his disturbed imagination that it was the will of God he should, after the example of Abraham, perform an expensive act of obedience, and offer, not a son, but himself."

Some believe that it was early in 1773 – in "the twilight of departing reason" as one writer describes it—while others think it was after his insanity had left him, in 1774, that he wrote the hymn beginning "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform" – hymn which has become one of the mos -widely known in English-speaking countries.

How truly pathetic, in the light of this terrible affliction, are the lines in which the writer undoubtedly refers to his own awful experience, in words which breathe the deepest submission and trust :

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him fot His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

The Sick Friend

In the. Church of Holy Trinity, Ripon, of which the author of this volume is Vicar, is a tablet with an inscription :


The friendship between the poet and Mrs. Unwin was true and deep, and to that friendship is due one of the most tender and touching hymns we possess. In December, 1769, Mrs. Unwin was very seriously ill, and in a letter to another friend Cowper writes of his great distress and anxiety concerning one whom he calls "the chief of blessing I have met with in my journey ". With touching resignation he adds : " Her illness has been a sharp trial to me. Oh! that it may have, sanctified effect, that I may rejoice to surrender up to the Lord my dearest comforts the moment He shall require them. Oh, for no will but the will of my Heavenly Father!"

He then thanks the friend for some verses sent to him, and endoses some of his own in return, these being those beautiful lines so well known throughout the Christian Church :

Oh, for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

Cowper's own account of their composition is as follows : " I began to compose them yesterday morning (December 9, 1769) before daybreak, but 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 which I have often experienced."

Truly does a writer say of these wonderful verses, and of the light which Cowper's letter throws upon them : "We read a new and pathetically personal history and meaning in the earnest and throbbing lines, and are brought face to face with an agony which would have been voiceless but for the mercy and goodness of God."

Jerusalem CrossSymbol and Sign


Usually has four small crosses between the arms, the five crosses symbolizing the five wounds of our Lord. Worn by Godfrey de Bouillon, first ruler of Jerusalem after the liberation from the Moslems.

Humour from History

Taken from a Church Magazine

This is an amusing specification of an artist who was employed to renovate and re-touch paintings on the walls of a church in Belgium. He sent a bill for £13.0.10 to the Church Wardens who, however, retained the details. This is what they got!

Detail £ s. d.
To correcting the ten commandments 1 1 4
To renovating Heaven and re-adjusting stars 1 9 9
To touching up Purgatory and restoring lost souls 1 11 1
To putting new stone in David's sling and enlarging head of Goliath 1 5 6
To mending shirt of Prodigal Son and clearning is ear   13 3
To embellishing Pontious Pilate and putting new ribbon in his bonnet 12 6
To putting ear-rings in Jonah's ears 1 1 11
To putting new comb and tail on St Pete's Rooster, replacing and re-gilding wing of Guardian Angel 1 1 6
To washing servant of High Priest and putting calamine on his cheeks 1 1 16
To decorating Noah's Ark and putting a new head on Shem 17 11
To brightening up flames of Hell, putting new tail on Devil and doing odd jobs for the damned 1 19 7
Total 13 0 10