ANOTHER “AMAZING” HYMN
John Newton is probably best known for being the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”. However, this Anglican Clergyman, and once prosperous slave trader, also authored many more hymns including “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” considered one of his finest.
John Newton was the son of an English shipmaster. After a few years of boarding school and going to sea with his father, he was conscripted into the British Royal Navy. When he attempted desertion, he was reduced in rank to a common seaman and was transferred to a slave ship headed to
In 1748 his father sent a sea captain to rescue him from
West Africa. It was during the
return voyage to that John experienced a
religious conversion after reading Thomas à Kempis and being on board a ship
that nearly sank. He began reading the Bible and by the time his ship reached
port, he had accepted Christ and was transformed, repenting his sinful habits
and renouncing his role in the African slave business. He eventually became an
advocate of the abolition of slavery. England
(In the public domain)
He gave his life to God and returned to
in 1750, and married
his childhood sweetheart, Mary Catlett. In 1755 he became renowned as an
evangelical lay minister. For the next two years he studied to be ordained as
an Anglican priest, but was initially denied. He applied to other denominations
as well but met with the same results. In 1764 he finally became an Anglican
priest at Olney, Buckinghamshire where he would spend the next sixteen years as
the rector at Olney. It was while he was there that he collaborated with the English
poet William Cowper on a number of hymns. His desire was to teach his
illiterate congregation spiritual songs they could memorize and sing as they
went about their daily tasks. In 1779 these
hymns were published as "Olney's Hymns". Among them was "Glorious
Things of Thee Are Spoken”. England
In 1779 he became the rector of Saint Mary Woolnoth Church in
, and served there
twenty-eight years until his death at the age of 82. In 1788 he spoke against
the slave trade and apologized for his participation. He became a supporter and
friend to William Wilberforce, the leader of the Parliamentary campaign to
abolish slavery. After the death of his wife in 1790, he began to suffer poor
health and failing eyesight. John Newton died in London, England and was originally
buried next to his wife in the Saint Mary Woolnoth Church cemetery. However,
due to the extension of the London Underground rapid transit system in 1893,
their remains were re-interred in Saint Peter and Paul Church cemetery. London
JOHN NEWTON Clerk
ONCE AN INFIDEL
A SERVANT OF SLAVES IN
BY THE RICH MERCY OF OUR
AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST
PRESERVED, RESTORED, PARDONED
HAD LONG LABOURED TO DESTROY
NEAR 16 YEARS AS CURATE OF THIS PARISH
Scripture references for “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”
Exodus 13:21-22, , Isaiah 33:20-21, Psalms 87:3, John 10:35, Matthew 16:18
GLORIOUS THINGS OF THEE
Glorious things of thee are spoken,
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.
See! the streams of living waters,
spring form eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint, when such a river
ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver,
never fails from age to age.
Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a covering,
showing that the Lord is near.
Thus they march, their pillar leading,
light by night, and shade by day;
daily on the manna feeding
which he gives them when they pray.
Blest inhabitants of
washed in the Redeemer's blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
makes them kings and priests to God.
'Tis his love his people raises
over self to reign as kings:
and as priests, his solemn praises
each for a thank-offering brings.
Savior, if of
's city, Zion
I through grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy Name.
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
's children know. Zion
Words: John Newton, 1779 Tune: “Austrian Hymn” composed by Franz Joseph Hayden
Franz Joseph Hayden, the composer of the hymn was an eighteenth century Austrian who wrote music for numerous symphonies, operas, masses and chamber music. He was also a devout Christian.
To listen to the melody: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/g/g051.html