John Newton is one of my favorite poets.
Does his name ring a bell?
I wouldn’t expect it to.
Unless you memorized the names in your hymnal as a child (like I did).
John Newton was a curate/parish priest. He, alongside his poet friend William Cowper, wrote an astounding amount of hymns in the 1700’s. A total of 348 made publication under a series of hymn books written for John’s ministry in Olney. They were known as the “Olney Hymns.”
Sadly, only 6 or so ever made publication in the hymnals we know and love here in the United States. One of them making the cut was a poem John Newton titled “Faith’s Review and Expectation~ Hymn 41.” This poem became the hymn we all know and love today as “Amazing Grace.”
I heard about the Olney Hymns in college. My piano theory professor shared their story as he was assigning our final project. The project required each of us to pick one of the 348 poems and write a melody and accompaniment for it. We would play that and sing the self-composed hymn as our final in front of the class.
I had such a hard time picking my poem. Not only am I indecisive, but they each captivated me like no other. I couldn’t choose a favorite. I wanted to sing them all.
When I was contemplating what topic I would cover this week, one subject began weighing heavy on my heart:
This week, I plan on sharing with you what this means to me, what I’ve learned from my own experiences, and the joy I’ve found on the other side.
And when thinking of what song I wanted to start off with to introduce the topic, one of these beloved poems came to mind. May I share it with you?
(Please note, there is no known melody for this hymn. It is believed they would choose a popular melody to sing the lyrics to during their services or would simply chant the words in unison. You feel free to do what your heart hears best.)
“The Waiting Soul” by John Newton
Breathe from the gentle South, O LORD,
And cheer me from the North;
Blow on the treasures of thy word,
And call the spices forth!
And call the spices forth!
I wish, thou know’st, to be resigned,
And wait with patient hope;
But hope delayed fatigues the mind,
And drinks the spirit up,
And drinks the spirit up.
Help me to reach the distant goal;
Confirm my feeble knee;
Pity the sickness of a soul
That faints for love of thee,
For love of thee.
Cold as I feel this heart of mine,
Yet since I feel it so;
It yields some hope of life divine
Within, however low,
Within, however low.
I seem forsaken and alone,
I hear the lion roar;
And every door is shut but one,
And that is mercy’s door,
And that is mercy’s door.
There, till the dear Deliv’rer come,
I’ll wait with humble prayer
And when he calls his exile home,
The Lord, shall find me there,
The Lord, shall find me there.
Oh how I love this poem. It makes my soul sing. Just what art was intended for.
I hope you’ll join me this week as we journey through the act of waiting. I’ll need all the support I can get!
How about you? What part of the hymn made your soul sing? I’d love to hear.
Thanks for sharing your time with me.
NOTE: To read more about The Olney Hymns, CLICK HERE.