Most people are acquainted with John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace” and rightly so, for it’s probably the loveliest hymn ever composed. Newton, however, was no one-song man. His collection of Christian hymns is simply impressive. To my shame, I had never – until this morning – listened or sung to any other of his compositions. This morning’s service at St Bartholomew the Great church in Smithfield, London was the opportunity for the congregation to join the 4-voice choir in singing Newton’s hymn “Glorious things of Thee are spoken”, written in 1779, which I now have learned is quite well known in the Anglican communion.
1. Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
He whose word cannot be broken
Formed thee for His own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded
Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.
2. See, the streams of living waters
Springing from eternal love
Well supply thy sons and daughters
And all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst t’assuage–
Grace, which, like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age?
3. Round each habitation hovering,
See the cloud and fire appear,
For a glory and a covering,
Showing that the Lord is near.
Thus they march, the pillar leading,
Light by night and shade by day,
Daily on the manna feeding
Which He gives them when they pray.
4. Savior, since of Zion’s city
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy name.
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.