The Saviour calls his people sheep,
And bids them on his love rely;
For he alone their souls can keep,
And he alone their wants supply.
The bull can fight, the hare can flee,
The ant in summer food prepare;
But helpless sheep, and such are we,
Depend upon the Shepherd's care.
Jehovah is our Shepherd's name, (a)
Then what have we, though weak, to fear?
Our sin and folly we proclaim,
If we despond while he is near.
When Satan threatens to devour,
When troubles press on every side,
Think of our Shepherd's care and power,
He can defend, he will provide.
See the rich pastures of his grace,
Where, in full streams, salvation flows!
There he appoints our resting-place,
And we may feed, secure from foes.
There, 'midst the flock the Shepherd dwells,
The sheep around in safety lie;
The wolf in vain with malice swells,
For he protects them with his eye. (b)
Dear Lord, if I am one of thine,
From anxious thoughts I would be free;
To trust, and love, and praise, is mine,
The care of all belongs to thee.
(a) Psalm 23:1
(b) Micah 5:4
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 31 August 1778
A sort of visiting day – Mr and Mrs Scott dined with us. Mr Wilkinson and I breakfasted at the Mill. I went with Mr Scott and drank tea at Mr Benjamin Higgins. When I returned went to hear Mr Wykes. Seems a good man, but no great preacher. When I hear some, I am led to consider how great a talent thou givest to those whom thou enablest to preach with some freedom, fullness and acceptance. Surely it is the most honourable and important talent a sinful worm can be entrusted with.
1 September 1778
Mrs Whitford, who has been for some time ill, is now drawing near to her end. The weakness of her body affects her mind and she feels very uncomfortable and distressed. O my Lord, thou showest me by various instances, that death is a serious event, and brings a shock upon nature, which cannot be rightly judged of, by what we meet with of pain or sickness, while death is distant. May thy grace strengthen her, and prepare us all! At the Great House, spoke with usual freedom; but thou knowest, and I am in some measure sensible that my spirit is dull and dissipated. O how unlike am I to what I ought to be, and to what many suppose me to be now. Ah this cold, distant life.
Wednesday 2 September 1778
Went to Northampton today, Mr Wilkinson with me. Returned in the evening. Thou gavest us a safe and pleasant journey. We breakfasted with Mrs Cook by the way. She is one of thy silent ones, I trust, but kept low. Found my Dear Child well. Much conversation at such times – my tongue is apt to talk too fast. Forgive O Lord what is amiss, and help me to grow in wisdom and grace.
Thursday 3 September 1778
Met the children. Finished the Gospel of Luke. O my Lord I have spoken much to them of thy Name, Love and Grace – but alas, they are inattentive. Foolishness is bound up in their hearts, and thou alone canst remove it. Preached in the evening on the Power of Faith and the triumph of Sovereign Grace in the case of Rahab. O may thy grace revive my faith and heal my soul, for I feel languid and heartless and seem to while away my time, to little purpose.
Saturday 5 September 1778
Walked to Yardley with Sally. We had a much conversation. My chief aim in this excursion was for the composure of her mind, in which I hope thou gavest me success. O Lord how great is our unbelief and ingratitude, and how powerful and subtle the enemy in his suggestions, else our peace could not be so often broken, nor could trifles make us so forgetful of our abounding mercies. It was upon the whole a pleasant day, and mercy crowned another week. I preached last night at Lavendon to a small company from 1 Kings 18:21.
Sunday 6 September 1778
Something of thy gracious influence, I hope, enabling me to speak of thy goodness today, of the privileges of thy people, and the snares to which they are exposed. Mr Barham and Rose came – the former returned in the evening, the latter proceeds tomorrow for Shropshire. He has been very ill, and is still so poorly as not to be allowed to preach. I think I can see a propriety and wisdom in thy dispensations to others. May I learn to acquiesce equally in all thine appointments to me and mine. We are now all relieved – the Lord make us thankful, that we have again appeared in thy house together, without pain or illness. If thou givest leave we go on Tuesday to Stanwick. I would pray for thy blessing upon our journey.
1 Corinthians 1:10-12
Hymn No. 322
[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]