Scripture Verse

He went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, This is what the Lord says: I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive. 2 Kings 2:21

Introduction

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John Newton
1725–1807

Words: John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779), Book 1, num­ber 37. Jericho; Or, The wa­ters healed.

Music: Green Fields, from The Pea­sant Can­ta­ta (Mer hahn en neue Ob­er­keet), by Jo­hann S. Bach, 1742. Ar­ranged by Lew­is Ed­son in The Cho­ris­ter’s Com­pa­nion (New Ha­ven, Con­nec­ti­cut: 1782) (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Johann S. Bach
1685–1750

Lyrics

Though Je­ri­cho plea­sant­ly stood,
And looked like a pro­mis­ing soil;
The har­vest pro­duced lit­tle food,
To an­swer the hus­band­man’s toil.
The wa­ter some pro­per­ty had,
Which poi­son­ous proved to the ground;
The springs were cor­rupt­ed and bad,
The streams spread a bar­ren­ness round.

But soon by the cruse and the salt,
Prepared by Eli­sha’s com­mand,
The wa­ter was cured of its fault,
And plen­ty en­rich­èd the land:
An em­blem sure this of the grace
On fruit­less dead sin­ners be­stowed;
For man is in Je­ri­cho’s case,
Till cured by the mer­cy of God.

How no­ble a crea­ture he seems!
What know­ledge, in­vent­ion and skill!
How large and ex­ten­sive his schemes!
How much can he do if he will!
His zeal to be learn­èd and wise,
Will yield to no lim­its or bars;
He mea­sures the earth and the skies,
And num­bers and mar­shals the stars.

Yet still he is bar­ren of good;
In vain are his tal­ents and art;
For sin has in­fect­ed his blood,
And poi­soned the streams of his heart:
Though coc­ka­trice eggs he can hatch,
Or, spi­der-like, cob­webs can weave;
’Tis mad­ness to la­bor and watch
For what will de­stroy or deceive.

But grace, like the salt in the cruse,
When cast in the spring of the soul;
A won­der­ful change will pro­duce,
Diffusing new life through the whole:
The wild­er­ness blooms like a rose,
The heart which was vile and ab­horred;
Now fruit­ful and beau­ti­ful grows,
The gar­den and joy of the Lord.