Scripture Verse

It came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. Genesis 4:8

Introduction

portrait
John Newton
1725–1807

Words: John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779), Book 1, num­ber 2.

Music: Tru­ro, from Psal­mo­dia Ev­an­ge­li­ca, by Tho­mas Will­iams, 1789 (🔊 pdf nwc).

illustration
Cain and Abel
Pietro Novelli
1603–1647

Lyrics

When Ad­am fell, he quick­ly lost
God’s im­age, which he once pos­sessed:
See all our na­ture since could boast
In Cain, his first-born son, ex­pressed!

The sac­ri­fice the Lord or­dained
In type of the Re­deem­er’s blood,
Self-righteous rea­son­ing Cain dis­dained,
And thought his own first-fruits as good.

Yet rage and en­vy filled his mind,
When, with a sull­en, down­cast look,
He saw his bro­ther favor find,
Who God’s ap­point­ed me­thod took.

By Cain’s own hand, good Abel died,
Because the Lord ap­proved his faith;
And, when his blood for ven­geance cried,
He vainl­y thought to hide his death.

Such was the wick­ed mur­der­er Cain,
And such by na­ture still are we,
Until by grace we’re born again,
Malicious, blind and proud, as he.

Like him the way of grace we slight,
And in our own de­vic­es trust;
Call ev­il good, and dark­ness light,
And hate and per­se­cute the just.

The saints, in ev­ery age and place,
Have found this his­to­ry ful­filled;
The num­bers all our thoughts sur­pass
Of Abels, whom the Cains have killed!

Thus Je­sus fell—but O! His blood
Far bet­ter things than Ab­el’s cries:
Obtains His mur­der­ers peace with God,
And gains them man­sions in the skies.