Though cloudy skies, and northern blasts,
Retard the gentle spring awhile;
The sun will conqu’ror prove at last,
And nature wear a vernal smile.
The promise, which from age to age,
Has brought the changing seasons round;
Again shall calm the winter’s rage,
Perfume the air, and paint the ground.
The virtue of that first command,
I know still does, and will prevail;
That while the earth itself shall stand,
The spring and summer shall not fail.
Such changes are for us decreed;
Believers have their winters too;
But spring shall certainly succeed,
And all their former life renew.
Winter and spring have each their use,
And each, in turn, his people know;
One kills the weeds their hearts produce,
The other makes their graces grow.
Though like dead trees awhile they seem,
Yet having life within their root,
The welcome spring’s reviving beam
Draws forth their blossoms, leaves, and fruit.
But if the tree indeed be dead,
It feels no change, though spring return,
Its leafless naked, barren head,
Proclaims it only fit to burn.
Dear LORD, afford our souls a spring,
Thou know’st our winter has been long;
Shine forth, and warm our hearts to sing,
And thy rich grace shall be our song.
-John Newton, 1779, from Olney Hymns, vol. 2, hymn 31