1 Hark! how time's wide sounding bell
Strikes on each attentive ear!
Tolling loud the solemn knell
Of the late departed year;
Years, like mortals wear away,
Have their birth and dying day;
Youthful spring, and wintry age
Then to others quit the stage.
2 Sad experience may relate
What a year the last has been!
Crops of sorrow have been great,
From the fruitful seeds of sin:
Oh! what numbers gay and blithe,
Fell be death's unsparing scythe?
While they thought the world their own,
Suddenly he mowed them down.
3 See how war, with dreadful stride
Marches at the Lord's command;
Spreading desolation wide,
Through a once much favored land
War, with hearts and arms of steel,
Preys on thousands at a meal,
Daily drinking human gore,
Still he thirsts and calls for more.
4 If the God, whom we provoke,
Hither should his way direct,
What a sin avenging stroke
May a land like this expect!
They who now securely sleep,
Quickly then would wake and weep;
And too late, would learn to fear,
When they saw the danger near.
5 You are safe who know his love,
He will all his truth perform;
To our souls a refuge prove,
From the rage of every storm:
But we tremble for the youth;
Teach them, Lord, thy saving truth,
Join them to thy faithful few,
Be to them a refuge too.
Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the use of Christians, 1803
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 >