Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 60
Glorious things of thee are spoken...
Manuscript Hymn No. 200
[incorrectly printed as 33:27,28 in 1st edtn]
Zion, or the city of God (a)
Glorious things of thee are spoken, (b)
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for his own abode: (c)
On the rock of ages founded, (d)
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded, (e)
Thou may'st smile at all thy foes.
See! the streams of living waters
Springing from eternal love; (f)
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while 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! (g)
For a glory and a covering,
Showing that the Lord is near:
Thus deriving from their banner
Light by night, and shade by day;
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which he gives them when they pray.
Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer's blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God: (h)
'Tis his love his people raises
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, his solemn praises
Each for a thank-offering brings.
Saviour, if of Zion's city
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,
None but Zion's children know.
(a) See also Book 2, Hymn 24
(b) Psalm 87:3
(c) Psalm 132:14
(d) Matthew 16:16
(e) Isaiah 26:1
(f) Psalm 46:4
(g) Isaiah 4:5,6
(h) Revelation 1:6
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 11 April 1775
Still something affected by a cold, but am enabled to go on in my usual round.
Friday 14 April 1775: Good Friday
Had a pain in my head in the forenoon, but was helped to preach twice as usual on Good Friday.
Sunday 16 April 1775: Easter
Felt something of a sore throat in the morning – but speaking was so far from hurting me, that I found myself quite well at night. I have much to be thankful to the Lord for in the course of the last week – preventing illness, and supplying me for services. Hymn at night: Zion No. 200. I was helped to speak from it with liberty, and the Great House was exceedingly full. O for a blessing! And O for a heart to desire a blessing more earnestly.
Hymn No. 200
[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]
Extracts from sermon series on 2 Samuel 23:5
Sunday 23 April 1775 [sermon]
A fullness of grace, a supply for every want, is treasured up in this blessed covenant, and in a way wonderfully suited for the encouragement and consolation of unworthy sinners.
Sunday 30 April 1775 [sermon]
... we can promise or perform nothing. Therefore it is called a covenant of grace... This covenant of grace was established with and in our Lord Jesus Christ… making atonement for transgression with his own blood.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but they have a sure refuge and strong consolations provided in the covenant of grace. This secures them so that their enemies have no reason to rejoice over them. When they seem to fall they shall rise again. This is a balance to all their sufferings.
Believers – rejoice in this Covenant. Walk about this Sion, consider her foundations and all the towers thereof and mark well the bulwark. See how it is fixed upon an immoveable rock, guarded by almighty power, encompassed with infinite love, and enriched with all desirable blessings, and then with a holy indifference to all the trials of the present hour, rejoice and say, Although my house be not so with God, yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered and sure, etc.
Sunday 7 May 1775 [sermon]
… the Covenant is everlasting, ordered and sure:
From everlasting. It is not a new and hasty contrivance, but was established in the counsels of God from before the foundation of the world (Titus 1:2). Christ as the head of the covenant was set up from everlasting (Prov. 8:23).
To everlasting. It is unchangeable. It is inexhaustible. It has been the refuge of the people of God in all ages. It is so to us, and thousands yet unborn shall rejoice in it.
It is not the weaker for all the assaults that have been made against it, it is not the poorer for all the supplies that have been derived from it, but like its great Author is the same yesterday, today and forever. It will be still the same to eternity.
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 10/09/2013