Olney Hymns Book 2 Hymn 2
Time, with an unwearied hand...
Manuscript Hymn No. 186
[New Year's Hymns for 1775: 1/3]
Time how short
Time, with an unwearied hand,
Pushes round the seasons past;
And in life's frail glass the sand
Sinks apace, not long to last:
Many, well as you or I,
Who last year assembled thus,
In their silent graves now lie;
Graves will open soon for us!
Daily sin, and care, and strife,
While the Lord prolongs our breath,
Make it but a dying life,
Or a kind of living death:
Wretched they, and most forlorn,
Who no better portion know;
Better ne'er to have been born,
Than to have our all below.
When constrained to go alone,
Leaving all you love behind,
Entering on a world unknown,
What will then support your mind?
When the Lord his summons sends, [a]
Earthly comforts lose their power;
Honours, riches, kindred, friends,
Cannot cheer a dying hour.
Happy souls who fear the Lord!
Time is not too swift for you;
When your Saviour gives the word,
Glad you'll bid the world adieu:
Then he'll wipe away your tears,
Near himself appoint your place;
Swifter fly, ye rolling years,
Lord, we long to see thy face.
[a] Isaiah 10:3
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Friday 2 December 1774
The post this evening brought [
a sudden(?) and affecting] account of the death [ of my brother George Catlett]. We received the letter at Mrs Unwin's, and I had not time to break it to my dear – I feared she could not have sustained the shock. But O the goodness of the Lord. He is indeed a present help in time of trouble. He supported her beyond my expectations. Yet it is a heavy stroke to us both.
Saturday 3 December
This day was spent in writing letters, in condolence, in emotions of grief which I trust the Lord was pleased to regulate and alleviate, and in preparing for a journey to London.
Sunday 4 December 1774
I served this day in tears, yet the Lord was pleased to support me through all the services, and though afflicted I was not cast down
Wednesday 7 December 1774
Set out after breakfast for Chatham. ... Found Mr Catlett in good health, only very lame, but remarkably composed and comforted and reconciled to the will of God, which was a great consolation to us. My brother has a sweet orphan girl about 5 years old (her mother died 2 years ago) which we now, in dependence upon the Lord, and upon the clear call of his providence, cheerfully adopt for our own. O may he by his grace adopt her into his chosen family.
Saturday 17 December 1774
… arrived in health and safety at Olney before dark. Praise the Lord O my soul. Nanny Turland, one of our oldest professors, died in my absence. The Lord gave her strong faith, in the hour of trial, though she had not much sensible[conscious] consolation. She had complained for years of a low, distant frame of spirit. But the Lord enabled her to triumph over death.
Thursday 22 December 1774
Through mercy my mind is preserved in peace during my dear Mary's absence, and the Lord has given me to hear of her safe return from Chatham to London. I long yet without impatience for her return; I miss her if but for a few days, and so she does me. Yet one of us must probably survive the other, we know not for how long. But Jesus will still live and is still All-sufficient. To him I commit our future way, and desire to rely upon his gracious promise to make our strength equal to our day. Ah. I see this world at the best is but a land of shadows. Everything is so transient, as well as insufficient to satisfy the heart. ..Lord thou hast given and spared us long to each other – But the chief cause of praise is, if we are both made willing to give ourselves to thee, and that we shall be thine for ever.
Friday 30 December 1774
My leisure which has been but little this week, has been chiefly applied to the hymns and sermon for New Year's evening [i.e. the evening of New Year’s Day].
Saturday 31 December 1774
Engaged most of the day with my friends, but this evening I retire from them desiring to close the week and the year with solemn praise and prayer to the God of my life and the strength of my days who has now crowned another year with his goodness. Except the late stroke of my brother's death, we have had no trial but the ordinary little crosses which are inseparable from the happiest life in this imperfect state... O for thy power to be with me and in me tomorrow, that the word may be blessed to old and young. .. O give us all a good new year, and prepare us for the great year of eternity, that we may meet and rejoice in thy kingdom for ever. Amen.
Sunday 1 January 1775
In the several services of this day I was favoured with some liberty .
[Hymn Nos. 186, 187, 188]
Hymn No. 186
[On this date Newton preached from the above texts at his church, St Peter & St Paul, Olney, during the morning and evening services, and from this hymn at the New Year's service]
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 10/09/2013