Scripture Verse

A woman in the city, who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Luke 7:37–38


John Newton (1725–1807)

Words: John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779), Book 1, num­ber 98. The two debt­ors.

Music: Am­ster­dam James Nar­es, in The Foun­de­ry Col­lect­ion, 1742 (🔊 pdf nwc).

James Nares (1715–1783)


Once a wo­man si­lent stood
While Je­sus sat at meat;
From her eyes she poured a flood,
To wash His sac­red feet:
Shame and won­der, joy and love,
All at once pos­sessed her mind,
That she e’er so vile could prove,
Yet now for­give­ness find.

How came this vile woman here?
Will Je­sus no­tice such?
Sure, if He a pro­phet were,
He would dis­dain her touch!

Simon thus, with scorn­ful heart,
Slighted one whom Je­sus loved,
But her Sav­ior took her part,
And thus his pride re­proved.

If two men in debt were bound,
One less, the oth­er more;
Fifty, or five hun­dred pound,
And both alike were poor;
Should the lend­er both for­give,
When he saw them both dis­tressed;
Which of them would you be­lieve,
Engaged to love him best?

Surely he who much did owe,
The Pha­ri­see re­plied;
Then our Lord, “By judg­ing so,
Thou dost for her de­cide:
Simon, if like her you knew,
How much you for­give­ness need;
You like her had act­ed too,
And wel­comed Me in­deed!

When the load of sin is felt,
And much for­give­ness known;
Then the heart of course will melt,
Though hard be­fore as stone:
Blame not then, her love and tears,
Greatly she in debt has been:
But I have re­moved her fears,
And par­doned all her sin.

When I read this wo­man’s case,
Her love and hum­ble zeal;
I con­fess, with shame of face,
My heart is made of steel;
Much has been for­giv’n to me,
Jesus paid my hea­vy score,
What a crea­ture must I be,
That I can love no more!