Prayer for the Lord’s Promised Presence
[Make thy face to shine upon thy servants]
[Horace, Lib 4, Ode 5 imitated]
Son of God! thy people’s shield!
Must we still thine absence mourn?
Let thy promise be fulfilled,
Thou hast said, “I will return!”
Gracious Leader, now appear,
Shine upon us with thy light!
Like the spring, when thou art near,
Days and suns are doubly bright.
As a mother counts the days
Till her absent son she see,
Longs and watches, weeps and prays,
So our spirits long for thee.
Come, and let us feel thee nigh,
Then thy sheep shall feed in peace;
Plenty bless us from on high,
Evil from amongst us cease.
With thy love, and voice, and aid,
Thou canst every care assuage;
Then we shall not be afraid,
Though the world and Satan rage.
Thus each day for thee we’ll spend,
While our callings we pursue;
And the thoughts of such a friend
Shall each night our joy renew.
Let thy light be ne’er withdrawn,
Golden days afford us long!
Thus we pray at early dawn,
This shall be our evening song.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 26 August 1777
Thou makest me apparently useful to others, Lord water my own soul also. Revive my spirit, renew my liberty of access, take off the seals from thy Word.
Wednesday 27 August 1777
A lecture this morning to the young men on faith. The subject last week was inspiration. Thou givest me freedom at these times, afford thy blessing likewise. My friend Symonds, mistaking something in my last, wrote rather tartly. But thou didst enable me to answer with mildness, which brought a reply full of acknowledgement. Had we been left to our own spirits we might have quarrelled. Lord grant me to walk ever by thy rule and to be meek and lowly.
Thursday 28 August 1777
In the evening preached and set others a lesson in which I have made but a poor proficiency myself – to make thy Name my Lord, a dwelling place and a hiding place, and a resting place – to cast all my cares upon thee, and to answer all charges by pleading who thou art, and what thou hast done. Proverbs 18:10 [The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.]
Saturday 30 August 1777
My gracious Lord permit and enable me to humble myself before thee tonight, from a conviction of much indolence, weakness and sin in the course of this week, through which thou hast brought me and mine in safety, and which thou hast crowned with many undeserved mercies. I have been for the most part like a bow unstrung, or a harp untuned, and now find myself on the eve of a Sabbath, without any suitable frame of mind for the privileges and important services of the day. On public occasions thou hast helped me so to talk and act, that my fellow creatures perhaps have no suspicion, how different I have been in secret, how utterly lifeless, barren and reluctant in my walk before thee. Alas what can I say, but that I am vile. And that the will to do good is enervated and overruled by the presence of indwelling evil. Cold affections, wild imaginations, a promptness to vanity, and an indisposition to prayer and everything that is spiritual, is the sum of my attainments. O let thy mercy pardon and thy grace revive me. Apply the blood of sprinkling and the power of the promise to my heart, and manifest thyself unto me, for I perceive I cannot feel thee, find thee, or even desire thee by any power of my own. Now help me to seek diligently and to obtain thy blessing and thine influence, that I may have comfort and thou mayst have thy deserved tribute of praise
Sunday 31 August 1777
Blessed be thy name my Lord, for the liberty of another Sabbath, that my whole family were enabled to attend to thy house, and that I was furnished and supported in the several services of the day. Oh, that a savour of thy truths may rest upon my heart! I speak with earnestness and confidence to others; let me not live in contradiction to my own principles, but as thou hast given me a desire of usefulness to thy people, let me in watering them be also watered myself, and help me to lie low under a conviction of the evil which defiles my best services.
Hymn No. 293 [283 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]