Mary Bowley* (Mrs. Peters)

AMONG female hymn-writers Mary Bowley (Mrs. Peters) ranks second to none. Her father, Richard Bowley, was born and lived in the quaint old town of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England, and there Mary Bowley was born, April 17, 1813. Her husband, John McWilliam Peters, was at one time rector of Quennington, Gloucestershire, but in 1825 left there to become vicar of Langford, Berks, and also had charge of the chapel of Little Farringdon, Oxford; but he evidently did not forget his Gloucestershire friends, but returned later to marry Miss Bowley. He died in 1834, leaving her a widow at the early age of twenty-one.
That she had known sorrow, and found solace in the writing of her hymns, is evident from the character of them. That perhaps by which she is best known is:
"Through the love of God our Savior,
All will be well;
Free and changeless is His favor,
All, all is well.
Precious is the blood that healed us,
Perfect is the grace that sealed us,
Strong the hand stretched forth to shield us,
All must be well.
Though we pass through tribulation,
All will be well;
Ours is such a full salvation,
All, all is well.
Happy still in God confiding;
Fruitful, if in Christ abiding;
Holy, through the Spirit's guiding:
All must be well.
We expect a bright to-morrow;
All will be well.
Faith can sing through days of sorrow,
All, all is well.
On our Father's love relying,
Jesus ev'ry need supplying;
Or in living, or in dying,
All must be well.”
None of her hymns are inferior, and though not a voluminous writer of poetry, so highly did Mr. G. V. Wigram, the compiler of "Hymns for the Little Flock," esteem them, that some twenty of the pieces produced by her pen are given a place in it. Her hymns, 58 in all, with others, were published in London in 1847, as "Hymns intended to help the Communion of Saints.”
In addition to these, Mrs. Peters wrote an excellent work, in seven volumes, called "The World's History from the Creation to the Accession of Queen Victoria." Its shorter title is, "Universal History on Scripture Principles." In it, the gifted authoress traces the hand of God in all the great events of history—a most valuable feature, and one not found in any other work that we are aware of. It was published by Bagster, and is now out of print; but sets may still be obtained through the London second-hand book dealers.
That her early widowhood made Mrs. Peters realize more strongly that, to the Christian, this world is a wilderness, with wilderness lessons, is shown in "We're pilgrims in the wilderness," but her hymn commencing, "Our God is light," shows what was the resource she found there in the unfailing, unwearying care of her, and our, "most gracious Lord," and His "sustaining word.”
Her hymns breathe a spirit of calm and joyous assurance as shown in that in which she wrote triumphantly:
"Clean ev'ry whit: Thou saidst it, Lord;
Shall one suspicion lurk?
Thine surely is a faithful word,
And Thine a finished work.”
The secret of her comfort in sorrow, her assurance and joy, is that she knew Jesus not only as a Savior, but as her Savior, so that she could sing:—
"Jesus! how much Thy Name unfolds
To ev'ry opened ear!”
Is the reader among those pardoned sinners whose memory holds,
"None other half so dear?”
If so, you can join in her last stanza:
"The mention of Thy Name shall bow
My heart to worship Thee;
The chiefest of ten thousand Thou,
Whose love has set me free.”
Mrs. Peters has long been with her Savior. She died at Clifton, Bristol, July 29, 1856, at the comparatively early age of 43. Her hymns live on as the expression of faith and praise of other saints besides herself.
The following are two characteristic hymns: