1 Once a woman silent stood
While Jesus sat at meat;
From her eyes she poured a flood,
To wash his sacred feet:
Shame and wonder, joy and love,
All at once possessed her mind,
That she e'er so vile could prove,
Yet now forgiveness find.
2 "How came this vile woman here?
Will Jesus notice such?
Sure, if he a prophet were,
He would disdain her touch!"
Simon thus, with scornful heart,
Slighted one whom Jesus loved,
But her Savior took her part,
And thus his pride reproved.
3 "If two men in debt were bound,
One less, the other more;
Fifty, or five hundred pound,
And both alike were poor;
Should the lender both forgive,
When he saw them both distressed;
Which of them would you believe,
Engaged to love him best?"
4 "Surely he who much did owe,"
The Pharisee replied;
Then our Lord, "By judging so,
Thou dost for her decide:
Simon, if like her you knew,
How much you forgiveness need;
You like her had acted too,
And welcomed me indeed!
5 "When the load of sin is felt,
And much forgiveness known;
Then the heart of course will melt,
Though hard before as stone:
Blame not then, her love and tears,
Greatly she in debt has been:
But I have removed her fears,
And pardoned all her sin."
6 When I read this woman's case,
Her love and humble zeal;
I confess, with shame of face,
My heart is made of steel;
Much has been forgiven to me,
Jesus paid my heavy score,
What a creature must I be,
That I can love no more!
The Christian's duty, exhibited in a series of hymns, 1791
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 >