From Ashes Part 2: Black Bile and Tears

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Raze out the written troubles of the brain And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart? (William Shakespeare, Macbeth) Melancholy, though it so weakens and disorders the mind, asContinue reading “From Ashes Part 2: Black Bile and Tears”

Hymn of the Rock

Continuing my project of setting John Newton and William Cowper’s Olney Hymns to new music, here is my latest, a hymn which Newton called “That Rock Was Christ”, after 1 Corinthians 10:4. Newton’s words are, as always, beautiful, verging on heartbreaking. I have tried to capture them with my tune. It is perhaps the recordingContinue reading “Hymn of the Rock”

“For mercies countless as the sands…”

John Newton, the famous hymn writer and pastor, certainly knew how to reflect on his life. Never forgetting his former life as a slave trader, womaniser and general no-good, he always approached life with a grateful heart, forever marvelling at the “amazing grace” he had known in his later life. One birthday, towards the endContinue reading ““For mercies countless as the sands…””

On reading a biography of John Newton

I’d have lived on Clapham Green And played upon its soil; I’d have joined their century And burnt up slavery’s spoils.   I’d have lived in Olney too And written hymns with men Whose poor hearts burnt with Gospel flame And kindled it with pen.   But God has made me live today: The worldContinue reading “On reading a biography of John Newton”