As the sun's enlivening eye
Shines on every place the same;
So the Lord is always nigh
To the souls that love his name.
When they move at duty's call,
He is with them by the way;
He is ever with them all,
Those who go, and those who stay.
From his holy mercy-seat
Nothing can their souls confine;
Still in spirit they may meet,
And in sweet communion join.
For a season called to part,
Let us then ourselves commend
To the gracious eye and heart
Of our ever-present Friend.
Jesus, hear our humble prayer!
Tender Shepherd of thy sheep!
Let thy mercy and thy care
All our souls in safety keep.
In thy strength may we be strong,
Sweeten every cross and pain;
Give us, if we live, ere long,
Here to meet in peace again.
Then, if thou thy help afford,
Ebenezers shall be reared;
And our souls shall praise the Lord,
Who our poor petitions heard.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Wednesday 19 June 1776
I have now determined to go to London, to consult the Surgeons about my complaint. This and all my concerns are in thy hand. Help me in faith to rely on thee. Do thou decide in the consultation and direct the event. Do thou make me perfectly resigned to thy will. I have deserved to be put to pain, to be laid quite aside. Give me strength to bear, and enable me to glorify thee upon every call.
25 June 1776
Much kindness from my dear friends at the Old Jewry, and indeed from all friends… After breakfast consulted Mr Warner on my wen. It is determined if thou pleasest, that I return to London some months hence, and submit to an operation. In this and everything else, I desire to submit and entrust myself to thy will and care.
22 August 1776 [letter to Thornton]
I think to write to Mr Foster in about two posts more, to look out if he can find a tolerable supply for me for about a month. If I can procure one I shall endeavour to come to London soon after the 6th October, and put myself into the hands of Mr Warner, or rather of the Lord. There may my dependence be, and not upon an arm of flesh. I have been kept perfectly easy about the operation and its consequences – which I might perhaps be, without much faith or resolution, depending upon the surgeon's word that it will not be attended with difficulty or danger. But I cannot boast of much resolution. If I am ever strong it must be by being strengthened. And nothing less will suffice in my little trial, than that grace which is sufficient for the greatest. O may I learn to trust in him, may I be given up to his will and then all shall, all must be well.
Sunday 6 October 1776
O my Lord accept my confession and my praises. I am an unworthy sinner, but thou art gracious. Thou hast in good measure removed my Dear's indisposition, and restored her to thy house. I ought thankfully to observe and own thy hand in timing thy dispensations in various respects, so as to favour my views of going to London this week. My discourses this afternoon and evening were with a reference to our intended journey, and I took a solemn leave of the people in a body at the Great House, with a hymn which I composed for the occasion. I thank thee for enabling thy servant R_ to pray earnestly for us. Lord I put myself in thy hand – my ways are before thee, do thou give a merciful issue – preserve us in our going out, while there and bring us home in peace and safety to praise thy name.
Solomon's Song 1:12
Hymn No. 258
[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]
18 November 1776
We left Olney the 9th October and returned in safety and health last Saturday the 16th. O that my heart with suitably affected with the mercies of this interval. Help me O Lord to record thy goodness to thy praise, and may it be written not only in the book but in the inmost tablets of my soul. The tumour upon my thigh growing larger and more troublesome I resolved to have it taken out. But surely my gracious Lord in the determination, the time, place and every circumstance, thy wisdom and goodness evidently presided. The operation was performed on the 10th October by Mr Warner of Guy's Hospital, and though the pain was sharp thou didst support me and make it very tolerable. The cure by thy blessing was happily expedited – so that on Sunday the 27th I was enabled to go to church and hear Mr Foster, and the Sunday following to preach for him. The tenderness and attention of Dr and Mrs Ford with whom we were, I cannot sufficiently describe – nor indeed the kindness of many other friends. To them I would be thankful my Lord, but especially to thee, for what are creatures but instruments in thy hand, fulfilling thy pleasure. At home all was preserved quiet, and I met with no incident to distress or disturb me while absent.