“The Sower,” Olney Hymns (1779)
Ye sons of earth prepare the plough,
Break up your fallow ground;
The sower is gone forth to sow,
And scatter blessings round.
The seed that finds a stony soil
Shoots forth a hasty blade;
But ill repays the sower’s toil,
Soon wither’d, scorch’d, and dead.
The thorny ground is sure to balk
All hopes of harvest there;
We find a tall and sickly stalk,
But not the fruitful ear.
The beaten path and highway side,
Receive the trust in vain;
The watchful birds the spoil divide,
And pick up all the grain.
But where the Lord of grace and power
Has bless’d the happy field,
How plenteous is the golden store
The deep-wrought furrows yield!
Father of mercies, we have need
Of thy preparing grace;
Let the same Hand that give me seed
Provide a fruitful place!
William Cowper (1731-1800) was an English Anglican poet and hymnwriter. He experienced a dramatic evangelical conversion as a young man and collaborated with John Newton in writing Olney Hymns, a collection that deeply shaped evangelical worship across the English-speaking world. He was also a dedicated abolitionist, and wrote several influential antislavery poems