A personal moment enshrined in a hymn
Englishman Simon Browne suspected that God had punished him by removing his sense of thinking. But consider his output: Browne had 20 publications, he produced several works in defense of the faith, he produced an English dictionary and around three editions of Hymns and Spiritual Songs containing 166 hymns and 7 doxologies. Browne is well-known for many hymns including “Come, Gracious Spirit, Heavenly Dove”. This amount of work should have made Browne beyond ecstatic and given him a sense of fulfillment. Why did he languish in self-doubt, given his obvious ability to pen works about the human condition and praise of God?
He had been messed up by a thief on the highway in his forties. Browne accidentally killed the thief in self-defense. This was followed by the death of his wife as well as his son. He did not feel that he was ever forgiven for accidentally killing a person and felt unconsolable upon his family’s demise. Soon after, Browne sought solace in writing “Come, Gracious Spirit, Heavenly Dove” (17th century). It was a success for him as he was struggling against very painful memories in his mind. This is mirrored in the line ”Plant holy fear in every heart. That we from God may ne’er depart”.
Englishman William Knapp composed the 188.8.131.52. - metered melody for “Come Gracious Spirit, Heavenly Dove” and named it “Wareham” (1738). In the same year, Knapp published it in his A Set of New Psalm Tunes and Anthems. The place of Knapp’s birth was Wareham and it was where he was a glover, the church organist, and a church parish clerk. The town dubbed him as “the country psalm-singer”. Knapp composed “Wareham” for the ease of singing it. He applied a continuous stepwise motion and its melody contour was leveled-out and appropriate for choral performance.