Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 25
When Hannah, pressed with grief...
Manuscript Hymn No. 281 [MS Mistakenly 291]
Hannah; or the Throne of Grace
When Hannah, pressed with grief,
Poured forth her soul in prayer;
She quickly found relief,
And left her burden there:
Like her, in every trying case,
Let us approach the throne of grace.
When she began to pray,
Her heart was pained and sad;
But ere she went away
Was comforted and glad:
In trouble, what a resting place
Have they who know the throne of grace!
Though men and devils rage,
And threaten to devour;
The saints, from age to age,
Are safe from all their power;
Fresh strength they gain to run their race,
By waiting at the throne of grace.
Eli her case mistook;
How was her spirit moved
By his unkind rebuke?
But GOD her cause approved.
We need not fear a creature's face,
While welcome at a throne of grace.
She was not filled with wine,
As Eli rashly thought;
But with a faith divine,
And found the help she sought:
Though men despise and call us base,
Still let us ply the throne of grace.
Men have not power or skill
With troubled souls to bear;
Though they express goodwill,
Poor comforters they are:
But swelling sorrows sink apace,
When we approach the throne of grace.
Numbers before have tried,
And found the promise true;
Nor one been yet denied,
Then why should I or you?
Let us by faith their footsteps trace,
And hasten to the throne of grace.
As fogs obscure the light,
And taint the morning air;
But soon are put to flight,
If the bright sun appear;
Thus JESUS will our troubles chase,
By shining from the throne of grace. (a)
(a) see also Book 2, Hymn 61
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Saturday 26 July 1777
Mr Catlett’s great pains and weakness call for our compassion, and are an exercise. Lord enable us cheerfully to bear this cross, and to do all in our power for his comfort. If he is to live, I pray thee to renew his strength – but above all to give him increase of grace, and fully to fit him for his change, whenever it shall come, and prepare him and us to say in every circumstance, Thy will be done.
Tuesday 29 July 1777
A good meeting at the Great House,; spoke from 1 Peter 2: 10 [Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy]. My Lord I trust I am interested in these words. How should my heart glow at thought that I have obtained mercy, and am now numbered among thy people. A vile rebel made a servant and a son. O for grace more powerfully to feel my obligations.
Thursday 31 July 1777
In the afternoon an unexpected visit from Mr & Mrs Romaine. I have often wished to see him here. I hope he now came sent by thee. He preached in the evening from Hebrews 13:9 very acceptably, though he spoke rather too low for many. The congregation was large considering the short notice. Mr Catlett seems more and more declining, no appetite, no rest. Thou art calling him; prepare him for his departure and us for parting with him.
Friday 1 August 1777
Engaged with Mr Romaine in the forenoon, walked with him to Clifton and Mr Perry’s. Company to dinner, and Mr Bull and Goode after dinner. The hurry of so many people rather too much for my Dear's head, and contributed to weaken her spirits, when she was about to have occasion for them. At dinner time Mr Catlett was taken much worse, and when we left him at night it seemed uncertain whether he would live till morning. Mr Romaine preached in the evening from John 16:14 – an excellent discourse. O Lord do thou glorify thyself by thy Spirit in my heart, that I may continually live upon thy person, work and fullness.
Saturday 2 August 1777
This morning at five Mr Catlett received his dismission from this state of sin and sorrow, and I trust, my Lord, he is now with thee. The news breaking upon my Dear when she awoke, and was otherwise much disordered and embarrassed by the hurries of yesterday, had a painful effect. Her head since her last illness is weak, and cannot well bear surprise. Yet I will praise thee, thou dost support and moderate, and givest me leave to pray for her. Thou hast helped, thou dost help. O Lord now appear in answer to prayer; humble, quicken and strengthen us and let not our trials be beyond the ability thou givest to bear them. Mr and Mrs Romaine left us this morning. Now evening is come, I desire to close the week with new praises, new surrenders and new applications to thee for a blessing upon myself, upon her and my family, and upon my ministry. Lord pardon all our sins, and lift up the healing beams of thy countenance upon her tomorrow.
Sunday 3 August 1777
I praise thee my Lord, for support through this day. I began it with a heavy heart, for my Dear, whose head was quite ill yesterday, had almost a sleepless night. Thou only knowest how I feel for her. But I went comfortably through the several services, and thought thou gavest me freedom and enlargement. In the evening she was better than I expected, and thou gavest her sleep in the night, for which my soul would praise thee. She is still very poorly, but thou showest mercy every day, and givest me encouragement to trust in thee. We had large congregations, and many out town people. O command a blessing upon thy word, and bless me even me also, O my Saviour, with humility, spirituality and peace.
Hymn No. 291 [281 intended]
[On this date Newton preached from the above texts at his church, St Peter & St Paul, Olney, during the morning and afternoon services, and from this hymn at the informal evening service]
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 29/08/2013