HYMNS AFTER SERMONS TO YOUNG PEOPLE, ON NEW-YEARS EVENINGS, SUITED TO THE SUBJECTS
[New Year's Hymns for 1775: 3/3]
We were PHARAOH's bondmen
Beneath the tyrant Satan's yoke,
Our souls were long oppressed;
Till grace our galling fetters broke,
And gave the weary rest.
Jesus, in that important hour,
His mighty arm made known;
He ransomed us by price and power,
And claimed us for his own.
Now, freed from bondage, sin, and death,
We walk in Wisdom's ways;
And wish to spend our every breath
In wonder, love, and praise.
Ere long, we hope with him to dwell
In yonder world above;
And now we only live to tell
The riches of his love.
O might we, ere we hence remove,
Prevail upon our youth
To seek, that they may likewise prove
His mercy and his truth,
Like Simeon, we shall gladly go, (a)
When Jesus calls us home;
If they are left a seed below,
To serve him in our room.
Lord, hear our prayer, indulge our hope,
On these thy Spirit pour,
That they may take our story up,
When we can speak no more.
(a) Luke 2:29
from John Newton's Diary etc, relevant to this hymn:
[two extracts on similar themes from earlier sermons]
1. [preached from Genesis 15:17 – within a series of sermons from Genesis begun on 8 January 1769]
They were to possess the land but first they were to suffer in bondage. When the time of the promise drew nigh he found them in misery and slavery - thus he made himself known as their deliverer. So it is with all the Lord's people. He has appointed them an inheritance, but they are for a season in the enemies' hands.
2. [from 1 Timothy 1:16, Sunday 21 March 1773]
When Moses has related the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, he adds, It is a night much to be observed, and they were accordingly directed to keep it in solemn remembrance. Much to be observed and remembered likewise is the time where it can be clearly known, of the Lord’s appearance to deliver his people from Satan’s bondage. I say when it can be known, for many are brought in so gradual a way, that they cannot distinctly mark the beginning. Others can certainly tell when he signally appeared in their behalf. The return of this day has I believe never been wholly forgotten by me, for twenty-five years past, though I have never thought of it with a thousandth part of thankfulness and sensibility which it demands. It is the day when the Lord sent from high and saved me from sinking in the deep water.
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.
Sunday 1 January 1775
New Year’s day falling this year upon the Sabbath, I had not time for retirement and writing as usual. I rose early, and sought the Lord’s blessing in the midst of many wanderings and interruptions. I would begin the New Year with praise for the mercies of the past, and with a new surrender of myself and my all to the Lord. O that I could be duly humbled for my former deviations, shortcomings and follies, and now at length in good earnest be devoted wholly to Him, and maintain a conscience void of offence. O Lord pardon, renew and strengthen me, that both as a child and a servant I may maintain communion with thee, and walk before thee with a single eye doing thy will from the heart.
In the several services of this day I was favoured with some liberty – and found enough to say in the evening when I preached my annual sermon to the young people, but I could have wished my spirit more engaged. O Lord do thou command a blessing.
[Hymn Nos. 186, 187, 188]
Hymn No. 188
[This hymn was written to be sung after the sermon on Deuteronomy 6:22-23 Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: and the Lord shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: and he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.]
[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 evening service]