The LORD'S day
How welcome to the saints, when pressed
With six days noise, and care, and toil,
Is the returning day of rest,
Which hides them from the world awhile!
Now, from the throng withdrawn away,
They seem to breathe a different air;
Composed and softened by the day,
All things another aspect wear.
How happy if their lot is cast
Where statedly the gospel sounds!
The word is honey to their taste,
Renews their strength, and heals their wounds!
Though pinched with poverty at home,
With sharp afflictions daily fed,
It makes amends, if they can come
To God's own house for heavenly bread!
With joy they hasten to the place
Where they their Saviour oft have met;
And while they feast upon his grace,
Their burdens and their griefs forget.
This favoured lot, my friends, is ours,
May we the privilege improve,
And find these consecrated hours
Sweet earnests of the joys above!
We thank thee for thy day, O LordD:
Here we thy promised presence seek;
Open thine hand, with blessings stored,
And give us manna for the week.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 22 December 1778
Yesterday spent in conversation; Mr Scott came early, and stayed all day. Today we dined with him; there I parted with Mr R and returned to tea and the Great House. Visits break in upon my time, and throw me behind-hand in business; but I hope they are upon the whole useful both to me, and to my friends. At the Great House a second discourse on 1 Peter 5:10. A pretty full meeting considering the season. O Lord thou art just in all thy dispensations, and thou art merciful and compassionate likewise. The poor are likely to be in great distress, by their staple business, lace. O help thy poor to trust in thee. And cause all to work together for good.
Thursday 24 December 1778
Met the children (they were but few) and preached to a few in the evening. The text led me to speak of the great value of Gospel privileges, ordinances and liberty. This consolation thy poor have here, though fed with the bread of affliction, they have the means of grace in abundance. May they be prized and continued to us.
25 December Christmas 1778
I thank thee, my Lord for liberty in preaching today. The morning subject was hinted by Mr Bull. I hope I love to declare to sinners, who thou art, and what thou hast done. My usual complaint at thy table still continues. I know why I attend, but I have little feeling. In the afternoon heard Mr Whitford from Isaiah 9:6; then I was very stupid and sleepy, but was awake and enlarged by thy goodness in the evening, when we had a very large congregation.
Saturday 26 December 1778
Closed the week in peace. My Dear, is often indisposed, and often relieved; upon the whole her health is tolerable, though very precarious, so that I am always under apprehensions. Lord I beseech thee to enable me to trust and resign her into thy hands entirely. I aim at it, my judgment and desire are for it, but the flesh is weak. Surely thou hast done well for us hitherto, and deservest all our confidence.
Sunday 27 December 1778
I thank thee my Lord, for liberty today, especially in the morning, my subject was chosen for me by somebody. O that thy blessing might make it useful, as it is important. In the afternoon I preached from and against myself. My own case well described, would be a full specimen of the evil and ingratitude of the heart, which is capable of forsaking thee, and following lying vanities.
My dearest friend [John Thornton] has had another dangerous fall from his horse, and is again preserved by thy hand in mercy to many. I hope thou wilt long protect and preserve a life thou hast made so important! But we are often alarmed.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Hymn No. 331
[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]