Ah, What Can I Do?

Ah, what can I do, or where be secure?

Author: John Newton (1779)
Tune: OLD 104TH
Published in 1 hymnal

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI

Full Text

1. Ah, what can I do, or where be secure?
If justice pursue, what heart can endure?
When God speaks in thunder and makes Himself known,
The heart breaks asunder though hard as a stone.

2. With terror I read my sins’ heavy score,
The numbers exceed the sands on the shore;
Guilt makes me unable to stand or to flee,
So Cain murdered Abel, and trembled like me.

3. Each sin, like his blood, with terrible cry,
Calls loudly on God to strike from on high:
Nor can my repentance, extorted by fear,
Reverse the just sentence; ’tis just, though severe.

4. The case is too plain, I have my own choice;
Again, and again I slighted His voice;
His warnings neglected, His patience abused,
His Gospel rejected, His mercy refused.

5. And must I then go, forever to dwell
In torments and woe with devils in hell?
Oh where is the Savior I scorned in times past?
His word in my favor would save me at last.

6. Lord Jesus, on Thee I venture to call,
Oh look upon me, the vilest of all!
For whom didst Thou languish and bleed on the tree?
Oh pity my anguish, and say, ’Twas for thee.

7. A case such as mine will honor Thy power;
All hell will repine, all Heav’n will adore;
If in condemnation strict justice takes place,
It shines in salvation more glorious through grace.

Author: John Newton

Newton, John, who was born in London, July 24, 1725, and died there Dec. 21, 1807, occupied an unique position among the founders of the Evangelical School, due as much to the romance of his young life and the striking history of his conversion, as to his force of character. His mother, a pious Dissenter, stored his childish mind with Scripture, but died when he was seven years old. At the age of eleven, after two years' schooling, during which he learned the rudiments of Latin, he went to sea with his father. His life at sea teems with wonderful escapes, vivid dreams, and sailor recklessness. He grew into an abandoned and godless sailor. The religious fits of his boyhood changed into settled infidelity, through the study of Shaftesbury and… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Ah, what can I do, or where be secure?
Title: Ah, What Can I Do?
Author: John Newton (1779)
Meter: 10.10.11.11
Source: Olney Hymns (London: W. Oliver, 1779), number 6.
Language: English
Notes: Alternate tunes: HANOVER, attributed to William Croft, 1708; LYONS, attributed to Johann M. Haydn (1737-1806)
Copyright: Public Domain

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The Cyber Hymnal #333
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