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This is a hymn by the once slave trader who was converted and became a pastor firstly in Olney and then in London, St Mary’s Woolnoth.
His name was John Newton 1725-1807
He wrote many hymns some more famous than this one.
But this one means so much to me as its really a personal testimony rather than a piece for congregational singing.
I find it echoes the feelings of my heart.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust has answered prayer;
But it has been in such away
Almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour
At once he’d answer my request;
And, by His loves constraining power’
Subdue my sins’ and give me rest.

Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with, His own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designed I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low

‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried,
‘Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?’
‘Tis in this way’, The Lord replied,
‘I answer prayer for grace and strength.

‘These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy’
That thou mayest find thy all in me.

John Newton 1725- 1807

The epitaph on John Newton’s gravestone says:

JOHN NEWTON, Clerk [preacher]
Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy
of our Lord and Saviour
restored, pardoned and
appointed to preach
the Gospel which he had
long laboured to destroy.
He ministered,
Near sixteen years in Olney, in Bucks,
And twenty eight years in this Church.

There are a number of books on his life and I can give you the details of some if you request by email/messages.



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