How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours

John Newton, the well-known converted slave-trader who authored "Amazing Grace," also wrote this little-known hymn. It expresses the centrality of communion with Christ to the Christian's joy. I grew up singing this song, but it was years before the lyrics hit home. Read, meditate, and be moved to seek Christ as your all.


How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus I no longer see;
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers,
Have all lost their sweetness to me;
The midsummer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay.
But when I am happy in Him,
December’s as pleasant as May.

His Name yields the richest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disperses my gloom,
And makes all within me rejoice.
I should, were He always thus nigh,
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal as happy as I,
My summer would last all the year.

Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place
Would make any change in my mind:
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
All prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine,
If Thou art my sun and my song,
Say, why do I languish and pine?
And why are my winters so long?
O drive these dark clouds from the sky,
Thy soul cheering presence restore;
Or take me to Thee up on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

THIS SONG WAS A FAVORITE OF MY GRANDFATHER, A BAPTIST PREACHER. HE HAS BEEN GONE HOME TO HEAVEN A LOT OF YEARS, BUT I CAN STILL HEAR THAT BEAUTIFUL VOICE SINGING THIS SONG. I CONTINUE TO SING THIS. IT TOOK ME A LOT OF YEARS TO UNDERSTAND THE LYRICS. THEY ALWAYS SEEMED SO SAD, BUT I NOW UNDERSTAND THEM. MAY GOD BLESS THIS NATION. AMEN

Anonymous said...

I never remenber my grandmother without remenbering this song I can hear her now so clearly on her porch at 5 am in the morning back in Liberia, west africa it is humbling to know that life is nogthing with out God.

snossg said...

This was my grandmother's favorite song. She wanted it sung at her funeral so when I was leaving my house after finding out about her death, I stop turned around and got my broadman hymnal, it was on page 24. When I arrived home, my Dad was upset because they could not find the song. He cried when I showed him I had it with me. This was back in 1974. Recently I had lunch with my two sisters, a new tradition we started. When I went to my car this hymn was playing on BBN. Her way of letting us know she was glad her granddaughters were getting together. Thank you God for your many many blessings and for reminding us you really are with us.

Anonymous said...

This was my Grandfather's favorite hymn as well. My,my. He would always cry as he sang it, and so because he cried, I cried. I couldn't sing it at his funeral, because every time I tried to practice it, I cried. I now understand what the tears were for, and it makes me proud that this was his favorite. It is a beautiful tune and it makes the words even more poignant. Thanks for posting it.

wordwisehymns.wordpress.com said...

Thanks for posting this one of John Newton's lesser known hymns. It still has a powerful message, as you indicate. Today in 1748, is the date of the violent storm at sea that caused the old reprobate slaver to begin to consider his lost condition and turn to the Lord.

If you enjoy reading about our hymns and their authors, I invite you to check out my daily blog on the subject, Wordwise Hymns.

Anonymous said...

I also remember this hymn from my childhood and was delighted to learn that it was President Lincoln's favorite hymn.

sister of snossg said...

snossg is my sister...to continue her story...about a year ago, my daughter, who is a violin performance major at ASU in NC recently e-mailed my sister and mea and others a modern version of this wonderful hymn saying how much she liked it and she wanted to share it with us....not knowing the connection with her great grandmother...yes he is always with us.

Ronald K. McCraw, DO, PhD said...

I found it interesting that Anonymous wrote that this was his/her grandfather's favorite hymn and that his/her grandfather was a Baptist preacher. It was slso my grandfather's favorite and he was a Methodist minister and used to sing it to me when i was a child almost 60 years ago. I am currently teaching Ecclesiastes to my adult Sunday School class and used the hymn to illustrate what life is like for those who never knew Christ (like Qohelet), or those for whom Christ seems (temporarily) distance, like John Newton when he wrote this hymn. It is a pity this hymn is not in modern hymnals, presumably because it is somewhat dark and depressing. Nevertheless, it teaches an important fact: without Jesus life is indeed "tedious and tasteless."