Ah, What Can I Do?

Ah, what can I do, or where be secure?

Author: John Newton (1779)
Tune: OLD 104TH
Published in 1 hymnal

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1. Ah, what can I do, or where be secure?
If justice pursue, what heart can endure?
When God speaks in thunder and makes Himself known,
The heart breaks asunder though hard as a stone.

2. With terror I read my sins’ heavy score,
The numbers exceed the sands on the shore;
Guilt makes me unable to stand or to flee,
So Cain murdered Abel, and trembled like me.

3. Each sin, like his blood, with terrible cry,
Calls loudly on God to strike from on high:
Nor can my repentance, extorted by fear,
Reverse the just sentence; ’tis just, though severe.

4. The case is too plain, I have my own choice;
Again, and again I slighted His voice;
His warnings neglected, His patience abused,
His Gospel rejected, His mercy refused.

5. And must I then go, forever to dwell
In torments and woe with devils in hell?
Oh where is the Savior I scorned in times past?
His word in my favor would save me at last.

6. Lord Jesus, on Thee I venture to call,
Oh look upon me, the vilest of all!
For whom didst Thou languish and bleed on the tree?
Oh pity my anguish, and say, ’Twas for thee.

7. A case such as mine will honor Thy power;
All hell will repine, all Heav’n will adore;
If in condemnation strict justice takes place,
It shines in salvation more glorious through grace.

Author: John Newton

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 tumul¬≠tuous 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 √† 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… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Ah, what can I do, or where be secure?
Title: Ah, What Can I Do?
Author: John Newton (1779)
Meter: 10.10.11.11
Source: Olney Hymns (London: W. Oliver, 1779), number 6.
Language: English
Notes: Alternate tunes: HANOVER, attributed to William Croft, 1708; LYONS, attributed to Johann M. Haydn (1737-1806)
Copyright: Public Domain

Media

The Cyber Hymnal #333
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The Cyber Hymnal #333

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