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… Go to person page >
Now may fervent prayer arise. J. Newton. [New Year.] The third of thirteen "Hymns before Annual Sermons to Young People on New Years' Evenings," published in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. ii., No. 9, in 7 stanzas of 6 lines. It is in common use both in the original and in the following forms:—
1. Bless, 0 bless the opening year.
2. Bless, 0 Lord the opening year.
3. Bless 0 Lord this opening year.
4. Bless 0 Lord each opening year.
These forms of the text generally embrace stanzas ii., iii., vi., vii., and are in use in Great Britain and America.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)