Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 91
When Peter boasted, soon he fell...
Manuscript Hymn No. 181
[also written as 3 Vol 2]
Peter sinning and repenting
When Peter boasted, soon he fell,
Yet was by grace restored;
His case should be regarded well
By all who fear the Lord.
A voice it has, and helping hand,
Backsliders to recall;
And cautions those who think they stand,
Lest suddenly they fall.
He said, “Whatever others do,
With Jesus I’ll abide;”
Yet soon amidst a murderous crew
His suffering Lord denied.
He who had been so bold before,
Now trembled like a leaf;
Not only lied, but cursed and swore,
To gain the more belief.
While he blasphemed, he heard the cock,
And Jesus looked in love;
At once, as if by lightning struck,
His tongue forbore to move.
Delivered thus from Satan’s snare,
He starts, as from a sleep;
His Saviour’s look he could not bear,
But hasted forth to weep.
But sure the faithful cock had crowed
A hundred times in vain,
Had not the Lord that look bestowed,
The meaning to explain.
As I, like Peter, vows have made,
Yet acted Peter’s part;
So conscience, like the cock, upbraids
My base, ungrateful heart.
Lord Jesus, hear a sinner’s cry,
My broken peace renew;
And grant one pitying look, that I
May weep with Peter too.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Saturday 15 October 1774
This evening a wagon laden with flour was attacked and in great danger of being plundered by a mob assembled for that purpose at about the Bull [Inn] – but it was happily prevented. I had the mortification to hear that there were some professors among them, and profession itself reviled upon their account.
Sunday 16 October 1774
In the afternoon I took occasion to speak of the late riotous proceedings, but though I bore (I hope) a plain and faithful testimony against them, I was something embarrassed and confused by the subject. If the Lord is pleased to make what I said a means of preventing the like mischievous and reproachful attempts for the future I shall be thankful. [sermon text:] 1 Thessalonians 4:11 [And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you]
Tuesday 18 October 1774
Most of the forenoon yesterday and today, employed in making a copy of verses for Miss Mary Barham's birthday. My little poetical talent is but very slow. In the evening at the Great House finished Colossians 1 [vv 28-29 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.]
Wednesday 19 October 1774
Dined with Mrs Green – and in the evening supplied Mr Jones's place at his meeting. There were about 40 people. I spoke from the four lepers, 2 Kings 7.
Sunday 30 October 1774
A young woman MS who has been mercifully recovered from the awful delusions which have prevailed among many of Mr Rand’s hearers, was here today, and a little talk with her, suggested the subject of my forenoon’s discourse. Psalm 124:7 [Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.] A hymn in the evening [No. 181] led me to speak of Peter’s fall.
Hymn No. 181 [also written as 3 Vol 2]
[On this date Newton preached from the above texts at his church, St Peter & St Paul, Olney, during the morning and afternoon services, and from this hymn at the informal evening service]
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 10/09/2013