Trinity of Discord

The Hymnal and Poetic Innovations of Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and William Cowper

by Richard Arnold (Author)
©2012 Monographs 162 Pages


The three writers examined in Richard Arnold’s Trinity of Discord, Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and William Cowper, are known as famous poets, but are also the greatest and most popularly compiled and used hymn-writers of all time. While masters of their kind, they were so remarkably different, considering they were working in the same (and quite new) genre. Moreover, when considered in their poetic-historical contexts, it is noteworthy that Watts can be seen as an archetypal Neoclassicist (not unlike Pope and Johnson), Wesley as a transitional pre-Romantic (not unlike Gray and Collins), and Cowper a thoroughgoing Romantic (not unlike Wordsworth and Coleridge, but with a much sharper psychological edge). Most noteworthy is that Watts, Wesley, and Cowper come before their later counterparts and their respective movements: their importance to mainstream or canonical literary history cannot be overestimated.
In terms of the hymn’s development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these three stand as beacons in the genre, if not individual species of a multiform genre itself. In their time and context, these three were, while paradoxically out of tune with the status quo, and radically different from each other, forging a new and everlasting genre, one born out of a veritable trinity of discord.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2012 (August)
Charles Wesley Romanticism Isaac Watts William Cowper Hymn-Writers Neoclassicism Transitional Pre-Romanticism
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2012. XII, 162 pp.

Biographical notes

Richard Arnold (Author)

Richard Arnold received his PhD in rhetoric and English from the University of Edinburgh, where he held the prestigious United Kingdom Commonwealth Scholarship. He began his career at the National University of Singapore, before settling in his native country of Canada, rising through the ranks at University of Lethbridge to become full Professor of English, a three-time Chair of English, and a Distinguished Teaching Award recipient. In addition to numerous articles worldwide, he has published several books, most recently Logic of the Fall: Right Reason and [Im]Pure Reason in Milton's Paradise Lost; and he edited the formidable Crystalline Gems of Islamic Jurisprudence – a book of Muslim law for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has been the recipient of international grants from Canada, Great Britain, America, and Saudi Arabia. One of its founding members, Dr. Arnold is currently Professor of English and Director of English Studies (and Chair of General Education Requirement Curriculum), at Alfaisal University of the King Faisal Foundation.


Title: Trinity of Discord