Sunday, 12 September 2021

Back In The Pulpit Again!

This Sunday I shall be actually preaching in an actual church! I haven't done that since January 2020 [although I did do a couple of 'conference call' sermons on the phone last year]

Here is the church - the Cowper Memorial Congregational Church which stands in Dereham Marketplace. The poet William Cowper spent the last years of his life in the town, lodging with Mary Unwin.

Below is a photograph of the old Georgian house - subsequently demolished to make way for the chapel. 

Cowper died in 1800 and was buried in the Parish Church. The nonconformist chapel was built in 1873. 

One of the most popular poets of his time, William Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. 

In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him "the best modern poet", whilst William Wordsworth particularly admired his poem Yardley-Oak. Cowper suffered from severe manic depression, and although he found refuge in a fervent evangelical Christianity, the inspiration behind his much-loved hymns, he often experienced doubt. 

His religious sentiment and association with John Newton (author of Amazing Grace) led to much of the poetry for which he is best remembered. It was Cowper who wrote "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform". He also wrote "Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour"

No, we won't be singing any of Cowper's hymn this morning. [and I'm preaching on 1 Thessalonians 1 verse 3] Here is the current mission statement of the church- I think the poet would have approved

Our mission is to nurture a diverse and welcoming community, committed to following fearlessly wherever God is leading us and make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of Dereham and the world!



  1. I too am back in the pulpit for the first time since February 2020. It feels a bit strange! My text is Mark 8:29, "Who do you say I am?" Praying that the Holy Spirit inspires us both.

  2. Lovely to hear that you had the opportunity to preach and share the Jesus you love.
    Now I need to get out my English poetry anthology and take a fresh look at Cowper's poems.

  3. I remember studying some of his poems at school, but, I can't remember which ones!


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