Olney Hymns Book 3 Hymn 95
Often thy public means of grace...
Manuscript Hymn No. Before Sermon: 7
SHORT HYMNS: BEFORE SERMON
Often thy public means of grace,
Thy thirsty people's watering place,
The archers have beset; (a)
Attacked them in thy house of prayer,
To prison dragged, or to the bar,
When thus together met.
But we from such assaults are freed,
Can pray, and sing, and hear, and read,
And meet, and part, in peace:
May we our privileges prize,
In their improvement make us wise,
And bless us with increase.
Unless thy presence thou afford,
Unless thy blessing clothe the word,
In vain our liberty!
What would it profit to maintain
A name for life, should we remain
Formal and dead to thee?
(a) Judges 5:11
They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates.
Thursday 28 January 1779: ‘I finished transcribing the Hymns, only that I have a few short ones to make, suited to the introduction and conclusion of divine worship.’
The last hymn dated in Newton’s diary, No. 334, was written for 1 January 1779, which may also have been the date for No. 335. But judging from their sequence in his ms notebook, some may have been written prior to that, possibly from around November 1778.
With no certainty of dates, some perhaps pertinent quotes:
Friday 1 January 1779 Last night I heard my friend Scott preach at Weston from 1 Timothy 4:8 [For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come]. How should I wonder and rejoice. Surely when thou wilt work, none can let it. What liberty, power and judgment, in so young a preacher! May thy comfort fill his heart and thy blessing crown his labours.
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 12/09/2013