Another of the Olney Hymns

This past Lord’s Day, we sang the old hymn “Nearer My God To Thee”. I mentioned then that the band leader aboard the Titanic had asked that hymn be sung at his funeral someday. He made that request before the voyage. Tho some dispute it, one of those rescued from the sinking ship said until her dying day that that hymn was being played by the ship’s orchestra as she was being rescued and the ship sank – with all of the musicians.

But there is no doubting the sentiment of needing to draw nearer and nearer to God is one that finds purchase in the heart of every true Believer in Christ Jesus. Indeed, how we lament the reality that our hearts often stray so far from the safe harbor of His dear presence. We can be so distracted by the most mundane and even profane of things.

Such was the burden upon the writing team of Newton and Cowper when they penned these words inspired by Genesis 5:24 “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” In it, I find the 5th stanza particularly poignant for my own soul today. Enjoy!

1 OH! for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heav’nly frame;
A light, to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

2 Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul-refreshing view
Of Jesus, and his word?

3 What peaceful hours I once enjoy’d!
How sweet their mem’ry still!
But they have left an aching void,
The world can never fill.

4 Return, O holy Dove, return!
Sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made thee mourn,
And drove thee from my breast.

5 The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee.

6 So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.


John Newton and Richard Cecil, The Works of John Newton, vol. 3 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 309–310.


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