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

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


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!