This year I wrote a poem for my birthday called “Thanksgiving“, based around Psalm 116. In response to a request from one of my readers, I ended up setting the poem to music and recently recorded it with my friend Dave doing vocals. On this second last day of the year it seems a fitting way to finish a year that has been full of unexpected blessings from a God who is far, far better than we could ever deserve.

“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 end of his life, he wrote the following in his diary:

My birthday…What a striking proof is my history of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the heart, and of thy [God’s] wonderful, long-suffering patience and mercy…

The gratitude with which he considered each year of God’s grace in his life is reflected in a hymn he wrote based on the second half of the beautiful Psalm 116. In celebration of my recent birthday, I have recorded my own musical version of the hymn, and am sharing it here in the hope that some of you might appreciate the chance to reflect on God’s grace in your own lives. You can read Newton’s words, along with my chords, here.

Psalm 116 – “For mercies countless as the sands”