Hymns - John Newton’s Little Known Hymns
August 9, 2023
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
John Newton

John Newton Painting, 1807

John Newton (1725-1807) was a trophy of God’s saving grace. His godly mother was a non-conformist, meaning she was separated from the Church of England, but she died when he was seven. “Newton 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” (Hymnary.org). “Though Newton continued in his profession of sailing and slave trading for a time, his life was transformed. He began a disciplined Bible study, prayer, and Christian reading schedule and tried to be a Christian example to the sailors under his command” (Christianity.com).

Newton wrote over 300 hymns, including “Amazing Grace” and “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.”

Following are three lesser known Newton hymns:

“What Think Ye of Christ, Is the Test”
John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779
Tune: Green Fields, German folk tune

1 What think ye of Christ? is the test

To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him;
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy, or wrath are your lot.

2 Some take him a creature to be,
A man, or an angel at most:
Sure these have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched, and lost;
So guilty, so helpless, am I,
I durst not confide in his blood;
Nor on his protection rely,
Unless I were sure he is God.

3 Some call him a Savior in word,
But mix their own works with their plan;
And hope he his help will afford,
When they have done all that they can;
If sayings prove rather too light,
(A little they own they may fail)
They purpose to make up full weight,
By casting his name in the the scale.

4 Some style him the pearl of great price,
And say he's the fountain of joys,
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its toys;
Like Judas, the Savior they kiss,
And while they salute him, betray;
Ah! what will professions like this
Avail in his terrible day.

5 If ask'd what of Jesus I think,
Although my best thoughts are but poor;
I say he's my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store,
My shepherd, my husband, my friend,
My savior from sin, and from thrall,
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord, and my all.


“Though Troubles Assail Us”
John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779
Tune: St. Denio (“Immortal, Invisible”)

1 Though troubles assail us and dangers affright,

though friends should all fail us and foes all unite,
yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
the promise assures us, "The Lord will provide."

2 The birds, without garner or storehouse, are fed;
from them let us learn to trust God for our bread.
His saints what is fitting shall ne'er be denied
so long as 'tis written, "The Lord will provide.”

3 We may, like the ships, By tempest be tossed
On perilous deeps, But cannot be lost.
Though Satan enrages The wind and the tide,
The promise engages, the Lord will provide.

4 His call we obey Like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way, But faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers we have a good Guide,
And trust in all dangers, The Lord will provide.

When Satan assails us to stop up our path,
and courage all fails us, we triumph by faith.
He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried,
this heart-cheering promise, "The Lord will provide.”

6 He tells us we're weak, Our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek We ne'er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions Our spirits have plied,
This answers all questions, The Lord will provide.

No strength of our own and no goodness we claim;
yet, since we have known of the Savior's great name,
in this our strong tower for safety we hide:
the Lord is our power, "The Lord will provide.”

8 When life sinks apace And death is in view,
This word of his grace Shall comfort us through:
No fearing or doubting With Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting, The Lord will provide.

Music score
Music score can be found in
Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs by Melody Publications

“Precious Bible What a Treasure”
John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779
Tune: All Saints Old

1 Precious Bible! what a treasure Does the Word of God afford? All I want for life or pleasure, Food and med’cine, shield and sword: Let the world account me poor, Having this I need no more.

2 Food to which the world’s a stranger, Here my hungry soul enjoys; Of excess there is no danger, Though it fills, it never cloys: On a dying Christ I feed, He is meat and drink indeed.

3 When my faith is faint and sickly, Or when Satan wounds my mind, Cordials, to revive me quickly, Healing med’cines here I find: To the promises I flee, Each affords a remedy.

4 In the hour of dark temptation Satan cannot make me yield; For the Word of consolation Is to me a mighty shield While the scripture truths are sure, From his malice I'm secure.

5 Vain his threats to overcome me, When I take the Spirits’ sword; Then with ease I drive him from me. Satan trembles at the word: ’Tis a sword for conquest made, Keen the edge, and strong the blade.

6 Shall I envy then the miser Doting on his golden store? Sure I am, or should be, wiser, I am rich, ’tis he is poor: Jesus gives me in his word, Food and med’cine, shield and sword.

Printable scores, MIDI files
Music score can be found in
Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs by Melody Publications

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