William Cowper (1731-1800), the pastoral English poet, collaborated with the curate John Newton in publishing the Olney Hymns—a classic collection of Evangelical and Reformed hymns. Cowper who generally wrote about simple pleasures of country life and expressed a deep concern for human cruelty and the suffering of the innocent, was born in Great Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire. Though he suffered periods of acute depression he lived with the evangelical cleric Morley Unwin and his wife, Mary. In 1773 Cowper was seized by a severe despondency, rooted in religious doubts and fears that plagued him all his life. It was apparently the care of Mrs. Unwin, who encouraged him to compose poetry, that enabled him to recover.
And thus, out of the depths of woe was the church given the great gift of his verse.