Sunday, November 15, 2009

What a difference a day makes

It's been a beautiful day, a good to be alive November day which makes me want to sing! It's hard to imagine that vicious storms were assaulting our shores a day or so ago. Looking out across the beach, instead of sand, there's tons of seaweed. Sadly we don't have a garden as it would make an excellent fertilizer.

Singing seems the right response to such a lovely day. Hymn singing was a part of daily assembly, for me and many of my age, which gave us a foundation few of us recognised at the time. It set me to thinking which particular hymn I would chose for today. Could it be All creatures of our God and King ... perhaps, it does celebrate creation and Creator?

Yet it was just 36 hours ago the storm raged. John Newton's hymn, based on Isaiah 33: Glorious things of thee are spoken. Line on line and verse on verse, it's brimming with assurance.

As I researched this hymn, I came upon the site that I've posted at the bottom of this post. I had no idea of Newton's history. His father was a sea-captain, and took his young son to sea. On these journeys, the young Newton was schooled in the harsh realities of life. He remained at sea after his father retired, and over the next few years experienced many kinds of terrible situation. At one point he even fell into the hands of a slave trader.

Finally Newton was reading Thomas à Kempis and ...
... the fearful experiences of a storm at sea in which his ship was almost lost, his deliverance from a severe fever in Africa, — these, and other experiences, at last awoke in the sinful man the memories of the religion his mother had taught him, and he turned from his sins with true repentance.

Reading his history, it's possible to see that the terrible journey that eventually brought Newton to faith informs his writing. I include just one verse, this is my song for today, but go and look at the others.

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose word cannot be broken,
Form'd 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment