Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 120
As some tall rock amidst the waves...
Manuscript Hymn No. 257
The Death of STEPHEN
As some tall rock amidst the waves
The fury of the tempest braves,
While the fierce billows, tossing high,
Break at its foot, and, murmering, die:
Thus they who in the Lord confide,
Though foes assault on every side,
Cannot be moved or overthrown,
For Jesus makes their cause his own.
So faithful Stephen, undismayed,
The malice of the Jews surveyed;
The holy joy which filled his breast,
A lustre on his face impressed.
“Behold!” (he said), “the world of light
Is opened to my strengthened sight;
My glorious Lord appears in view,
That Jesus whom ye lately slew.”
With such a friend and witness near,
No form of death could make him fear;
Calm, amidst showers of stones, he kneels,
And only for his murderers feels.
May we, by faith, perceive thee thus,
Dear Saviour, ever near to us!
This sight our peace through life shall keep,
And death be feared no more than sleep.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Sunday 22 September 1776
Last night Mr Barham and Mr Rose came, the latter to preach at Clifton. I had as much converse with my dear friend as opportunity would permit, and in the evening he bid us FAREWELL, and returned home. I expect to see him no more till his return from Jamaica, whither some urgent business calls him. His heart was much affected at parting with us, How much more with his own family? But thou canst give him and them submission and peace. I commit him and entrust him O Lord to thee. His path lies through many apparent dangers, especially at this time when the sea is so full of American ships. But what are dangers to those who trust in thee. [sermon:] 1 Peter 5:7 [casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.]
Tuesday 24 September 1776
Thou gavest me some liberty at the Great House, speaking of the land of Beulah. My Dear afflicted with a disorder called the shingles, began to be painful today.
Thursday 26 September 1776
Met the children. My Dear quite ill, in violent pain, occasioned restless nights to us both, and interrupted me in the days. Alas anything is sufficient to hinder me. I speak of trusting in thee, and submission to thy will, but small trials comparatively are sufficient to prove the weakness both of my faith and my patience. Thou seest O Lord that I am in a poor frame of spirit, and thou seest I cannot restore myself.
Saturday 28 September 1776
My mind a good deal unsettled today, partly by a letter received… The time of my intended removal to London is approaching [for an operation to remove a tumour on his thigh]. If it be thy pleasure I should go now, thou wilt enable my Dear for the journey, and make all things plain. If not, help me to say, Thy will be done – and sincerely to prefer thine appointments to my own choice. Lord shine upon my soul, and sanctify all dispensations to her good and mine, and it shall suffice. O let a sense of thy wisdom and good together with a consciousness of what I am, and what I deserve, compose my spirit. May I be still and know that thou art God. And be chiefly solicitous for thy grace and presence.
Sunday 29 September 1776
O that thou wouldst return and humble and revive me. And O that the word might be clothed with power! What I do speak, seems to be in vain to the bulk of the congregation.
2 Corinthians 5:7
2 Corinthians 5:14
Hymn No. 257
[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