Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Cousin, Anne Ross

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COUSIN, Mrs. ANNE ROSS (1824–1906), hymn-writer, only child of David Ross Cundell, M.D., an assistant surgeon of the 33rd regiment at Waterloo, was born in Hull on 27 April 1824, her family removing soon after to Leith. Educated, privately, she became an expert pianist under John Muir Wood. In 1847 she married William Cousin, minister of Chelsea presbyterian church, who was subsequently called to the Free church at Irvine, Ayrshire, and thence in 1859 to Melrose. He retired to Edinburgh in 1878 and died there in 1883. Mrs. Cousin survived him for twenty-three years, dying in Edinburgh on 6 Dec. 1906. In 1910 a stained-glass window to her memory was placed in St. Aidan's United Free church, Melrose. She had four sons and two daughters. A son, John W. Cousin, who died in December 1910, compiled 'A Biographical Dictionary of English Literature,' published in Dent's 'Everyman's Library.'

Mrs. Cousin is best known by her hymn 'The sands of time are sinking,' written at Irvine in 1854. 'I wrote it,' she said, 'as I sat at work one Saturday evening, and though I threw it off at that time, it was the result of long familiarity with the writings of Samuel Rutherford, especially his Letters.' The original was in nineteen stanzas, and appeared first in 'The Christian Treasury' in 1857, under the heading 'Last Words of Samuel Rutherford.' It did not become generally known until the Rev. Dr. J. Hood Wilson, of the Barclay church, Edinburgh, introduced a shortened version of five verses (only the fourth and fifth of which correspond with the now popular version) into a hymn book, ‘Service of Praise,’ prepared for his congregation in 1865. The refrain of the hymn gave the leading title to Mrs. Cousin's ‘Immanuel's Land and other Pieces’ (1876; second edition, revised, 1896). Next in popularity among her hymns are ‘O Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head,’ which Mr. Sankey eulogised as a ‘Gospel hymn’ that had been ‘very much blessed,’ and ‘King Eternal! King Immortal,’ which has been frequently set to music and sung at great choral festivals.

[Information from her daughter, Miss Anne P. Cousin; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology; Life of Dr. J. Hood Wilson; Duncan Campbell's Hymns and Hymn Makers; Musical Times, Jan. 1907, specially as to the tune of ‘The sands of time.’]

J. C. H.