Need uplifting?


I was going to just add the hymn “Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken,” by John Newton because I love the old hymns and we sang this, this past Sunday morning in the church my wife and I attend. And I was searching for an example. And I found this…

Listen and watch disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, children of God sing praise to the Lord! This is in India.

St. Andrews Church, Kirk Chennai, India.

200 voices. Full orchestra. Singing praise to the Lord in the land of Hinduism and Islam, where Christians and Christianity are persecuted on a daily basis…

This is such a blessing given by the Lord I listened to it more than a few times back to back to back…We have a good God! We have a GREAT God! We have a wondrous and great God our Father and if not for the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, His love, His life death and conquering of death, His taking the place of every sinner, such as myself, such as you if you have been saved and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit! For our faith in Him. For our faith in His Father, our Father, Almighty God. The shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, His life, His death, His resurrection, and our faith gives friendship, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life to us who deserve nothing but condemnation and wrath. It’s all God. It’s all Jesus Christ. It’s all the Holy Spirit. It’s all the word of God and our belief, our faith, our obedience, our living out and working out our salvation, our living out the word of God in us!

Enough words from me. Listen…listen…and sing along from what is in your heart. Put there by the Lord Jesus Christ, put there by the Holy Spirit, put there by God our Father to those who believe and obey…

(full lyrics plus short biography enclosed below)


Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken

By John Newton

1 Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

2 See the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove;
who can faint while such a river
ever flows their thirst t’assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the giver,
never fails from age to age.

3 Round each habitation hov’ring,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a cov’ring,
showing that the Lord is near;
thus deriving from their banner
light by night and shade by day,
safe they feed upon the manna
which he gives them when they pray.

4 Savior, if of Zion’s city
I, thro’ grace, a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name;
fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion’s children know.

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #403


John Newton

Short Name: John Newton

Full Name: Newton, John, 1725-1807

Birth Year:1725

Death Year:1807

John Newton (b. London, England, 1725; d. London, 1807) was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumul­tuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape he himself became the captain of a slave ship. Several factors contributed to Newton’s conversion: a near-drowning in 1748, the piety of his friend Mary Catlett, (whom he married in 1750), and his reading of Thomas à Kempis’ Imitation of Christ. In 1754 he gave up the slave trade and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist. After becoming a tide-surveyor in Liverpool, England, Newton came under the influence of George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley and began to study for the ministry. He was ordained in the Church of England and served in Olney (1764-1780) and St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807). His legacy to the Christian church includes his hymns as well as his collaboration with William Cowper (PHH 434) in publishing Olney Hymns (1779), to which Newton contributed 280 hymns, including “Amazing Grace.”

Bert Polman
Newton, John, who was born in London, July 24, 1725, and died there Dec. 21, 1807, occupied an unique position among the founders of the Evangelical School, due as much to the romance of his young life and the striking history of his conversion, as to his force of character. His mother, a pious Dissenter, stored his childish mind with Scripture, but died when he was seven years old. At the age of eleven, after two years’ schooling, during which he learned the rudiments of Latin, he went to sea with his father. His life at sea teems with wonderful escapes, vivid dreams, and sailor recklessness. He grew into an abandoned and godless sailor. The religious fits of his boyhood changed into settled infidelity, through the study of Shaftesbury and the instruction of one of his comrades. Disappointing repeatedly the plans of his father, he was flogged as a deserter from the navy, and for fifteen months lived, half-starved and ill-treated, in abject degradation under a slave-dealer in Africa. The one restraining influence of his life was his faithful love for his future wife, Mary Catlett, formed when he was seventeen, and she only in her fourteenth year. A chance reading of Thomas à Kempis sowed the seed of his conversion; which quickened under the awful contemplations of a night spent in steering a water-logged vessel in the face of apparent death (1748). He was then twenty-three. The six following years, during which he commanded a slave ship, matured his Christian belief. Nine years more, spent chiefly at Liverpool, in intercourse with Whitefield, Wesley, and Nonconformists, in the study of Hebrew and Greek, in exercises of devotion and occasional preaching among the Dissenters, elapsed before his ordination to the curacy of Olney, Bucks (1764).

The Olney period was the most fruitful of his life. His zeal in pastoral visiting, preaching and prayer-meetings was unwearied. He formed his lifelong friendship with Cowper, and became the spiritual father of Scott the commentator. At Olney his best works—-Omicron’s Letters (1774); Olney Hymns (1779); Cardiphonia, written from Olney, though published 1781—were composed. As rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, in the centre of the Evangelical movement (1780-1807) his zeal was as ardent as before. In 1805, when no longer able to read his text, his reply when pressed to discontinue preaching, was, “What, shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak!” The story of his sins and his conversion, published by himself, and the subject of lifelong allusion, was the base of his influence; but it would have been little but for the vigour of his mind (shown even in Africa by his reading Euclid drawing its figures on the sand), his warm heart, candour, tolerance, and piety. These qualities gained him the friendship of Hannah More, Cecil, Wilberforce, and others; and his renown as a guide in experimental religion made him the centre of a host of inquirers, with whom he maintained patient, loving, and generally judicious correspondence, of which a monument remains in the often beautiful letters of Cardiphonia. As a hymnwriter, Montgomery says that he was distanced by Cowper. But Lord Selborne’s contrast of the “manliness” of Newton and the “tenderness” of Cowper is far juster. A comparison of the hymns of both in The Book of Praise will show no great inequality between them. Amid much that is bald, tame, and matter-of-fact, his rich acquaintance with Scripture, knowledge of the heart, directness and force, and a certain sailor imagination, tell strongly. The one splendid hymn of praise, “Glorious things of thee are spoken,” in the Olney collection, is his. “One there is above all others” has a depth of realizing love, sustained excellence of expression, and ease of development. “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds” is in Scriptural richness superior, and in structure, cadence, and almost tenderness, equal to Cowper’s “Oh! for a closer walk with God.” The most characteristic hymns are those which depict in the language of intense humiliation his mourning for the abiding sins of his regenerate life, and the sense of the withdrawal of God’s face, coincident with the never-failing conviction of acceptance in The Beloved. The feeling may be seen in the speeches, writings, and diaries of his whole life. [Rev. H. Leigh Bennett, M.A.]

A large number of Newton’s hymns have some personal history connected with them, or were associated with circumstances of importance. These are annotated under their respective first lines. Of the rest, the known history of which is confined to the fact that they appeared in the Olney Hymns, 1779, the following are in common use:—
1. Be still, my heart, these anxious caresConflict.
2. Begone, unbelief, my Saviour is nearTrust.
3. By the poor widow’s oil and mealProvidence.
4. Chief Shepherd of Thy chosen sheepOn behalf of Ministers.
5. Darkness overspreads us hereHope.
6. Does the Gospel-word proclaimRest in Christ.
7. Fix my heart and eyes on ThineTrue Happiness.
8. From Egypt lately freedThe Pilgrim’s Song.
9. He Who on earth as man was KnownChrist the Rock.
10. How blest are they to whom the LordGospel Privileges.
11. How blest the righteous areDeath of the Righteous.
12. How lost was my [our] conditionChrist the Physician.
13. How tedious and tasteless the hoursFellowship with Christ.
14. How welcome to the saints [soul] when pressedSunday.
15. Hungry, and faint, and poorBefore Sermon.
16. In mercy, not in wrath, rebukePleading for Mercy.
17. In themselves, as weak as wormsPower of Prayer.
18. Incarnate God, the soul that knowsThe Believer’s Safety.
19. Jesus, Who bought us with His bloodThe God of Israel. “Teach us, 0 Lord, aright to plead,” is from this hymn.
20. Joy is a [the] fruit that will not growJoy.
21. Let hearts and tongues uniteClose of the Year. From this “Now, through another year,” is taken.
22. Let us adore the grace that seeksNew Year.
23. Mary to her [the] Saviour’s tombEaster.
24. Mercy, 0 Thou Son of DavidBlind Bartimeus.
25. My harp untun’d and laid asideHoping for a Revival. From this “While I to grief my soul gave way” is taken.
26. Nay, I cannot let thee goPrayer. Sometimes, “Lord, I cannot let Thee go.”
27. Now may He Who from the deadAfter Sermon.
28. 0 happy they who know the Lord, With whom He deigns to dwellGospel Privilege.
29. O Lord, how vile am ILent.
30. On man in His own Image madeAdam.
31. 0 speak that gracious word againPeace through Pardon.
32. Our Lord, Who knows full wellThe Importunate Widow. Sometimes altered to “Jesus, Who knows full well,” and again, “The Lord, Who truly knows.”
33. Physician of my sin-sick soulLent.
34. Pleasing spring again is hereSpring.
35. Poor, weak, and worthless, though I amJesus the Friend.
36. Prepare a thankful songPraise to Jesus.
37. Refreshed by the bread and wineHoly Communion. Sometimes given as “Refreshed by sacred bread and wine.”
38. Rejoice, believer, in the Lord. Sometimes “Let us rejoice in Christ the Lord.” Perseverance.
39. Salvation, what a glorious planSalvation.
40. Saviour, shine and cheer my soulTrust in Jesus. The cento “Once I thought my mountain strong,” is from this hymn.
41. Saviour, visit Thy plantationPrayer for the Church.
42. See another year [week] is goneUncertainty of Life.
43. See the corn again in earHarvest.
44. Sinner, art thou still securePreparation for the Future.
45. Sinners, hear the [thy] Saviour’s callInvitation.
46. Sovereign grace has power aloneThe two Malefactors.
47. Stop, poor sinner, stop and thinkCaution and Alarm.
48. Sweeter sounds than music knowsChristmas.
49. Sweet was the time when first I feltJoy in Believing.
50. Ten thousand talents once I owedForgiveness and Peace.
51. The grass and flowers, which clothe the fieldHay-time.
52. The peace which God alone revealsClose of Service.
53. Thy promise, Lord, and Thy commandBefore Sermon.
54. Time, by moments, steals awayThe New Year.
55. To Thee our wants are knownClose of Divine Service.
56. We seek a rest beyond the skiesHeaven anticipated.
57. When any turn from Zion’s wayJesus only.
58. When Israel, by divine commandGod, the Guide and Sustainer of Life.
59. With Israel’s God who can compareAfter Sermon.
60. Yes, since God Himself has said itConfidence.
61. Zion, the city of our GodJourneying Zionward.

— John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


Newton, J., p. 803, i. Another hymn in common use from the Olney Hymns, 1779, is “Let me dwell on Golgotha” (Holy Communion).

–John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)

John Newton was born in London, July 24, 1725. His mother died when he was seven years old. In his eleventh year he accompanied his father, a sea captain, on a voyage. For several years his life was one of dissipation and crime. He was disgraced while in the navy. Afterwards he engaged in the slave trade. Returning to England in 1748, the vessel was nearly wrecked in a storm. This peril forced solemn reflection upon him, and from that time he was a changed man. It was six years, however, before he relinquished the slave trade, which was not then regarded as an unlawful occupation. But in 1754, he gave up sea-faring life, and holding some favourable civil position, began also religious work. In 1764, in his thirty-ninth year, he entered upon a regular ministry as the Curate of Olney. In this position he had intimate intercourse with Cowper, and with him produced the “Olney Hymns.” In 1779, Newton became Rector of S. Mary Woolnoth, in London, in which position he became more widely known. It was here he died, Dec. 21, 1807, His published works are quite numerous, consisting of sermons, letters, devotional aids, and hymns. He calls his hymns “The fruit and expression of his own experience.”
Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872

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