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… Go to person page >
As when the weary traveller gains. J. Newton. [Nearing Heaven.] Included in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. iii., No. 58, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines and entitled "Home in View," and continued in later editions of the same. It was given at an early date in the old collections, and is still in somewhat extensive use both in Great Britain and America, specially in the latter. In a great many cases the text is altered and abbreviated. The Baptist Psalms & Hymns, 1858, No. 576, is an exception in favour of the original. The Rev. R. Bingham has given a Latin rendering of the original with the omission of stanza ii. in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1871, p. 67:—"Ut quando fessus longâ regione viator."