Scripture Verse

When they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet. Exodus 15:23–25


John Newton

Words: John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779), Book 1, num­ber 13.

Music: Wind­sor Chris­to­pher Tye, 1533. Ar­ranged in the Booke of Mu­sicke, by Will­iam Da­man, 1591 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:


Bitter, in­deed, the wa­ters are
Which in this des­ert flow;
Though to the eye they pro­mise fair,
They taste of sin and woe.

Of pleas­ing draughts I once could dream,
But now, awake, I find,
That sin has poi­soned ev­ery stream,
And left a curse be­hind.

But there’s a won­der-working wood,
I’ve heard be­liev­ers say,
Can make these bit­ter waters good,
And take the curse away.

The vir­tues of this heal­ing tree
Are known and prized by few;
Reveal this sec­ret, Lord, to me,
That I may prize it too.

The cross on which the Sav­ior died,
And con­quered for His saints;
This is the tree, by faith ap­plied,
Which sweet­ens all com­plaints.

Thousands have found the blest ef­fect,
Nor long­er mourn their lot;
While on His sor­rows they re­flect,
Their own are all for­got.

When they, by faith, be­hold the cross,
Tho’ many griefs they meet;
They draw again from ev­ery loss,
And find the bit­ter sweet.