Featured Article from Living Water Magazine


Having seen the eclipse of the moon John Newton made the following note for July 30 1776:

Tonight I attended an eclipse of the moon.  How great are Thy works; with what punctuality do the heavenly bodies fulfil their courses, and observe their seasons to a moment.  All things obey Thee, except fallen angels and fallen man. My thoughts would have taken a serious turn, but I was not alone. I thought, my Lord, of Thine eclipse – the horrible darkness which overwhelmed Thy mind when Thou saidst, ‘Why hast Thou forsaken Me’.  Ah, sin was the cause – my sins.  Yet I do not hate sin, nor loath myself as I ought.

A few days later he wrote to his friend John Thornton, and sent him a poem on the subject:

4 August 1776
John Newton to John Thornton, Director of the Bank of England

I observed the Eclipse of the Moon on Tuesday night, till it was wholly covered by the shade, and endeavoured to draw some meditations from it, which gave rise to a hymn that was the subject of my discourse last night at the Great House – our Saviour’s passion, the motions of the heavenly bodies being a pledge of His faithfulness to His promises (Jeremiah 33:20-21 & 25) and the dark seasons to which believers are liable in this present life, were the principal points. I take the liberty to send you a copy of the hymn for no other reason than that the subject is not common, and that you have been pleased often favourably to accept what I have sent of this sort.

Yes there is a better world, where our sun shall no more go down, neither the moon withdraw its shining – or rather, both moon and sun shall be needless, for the Lord Himself shall be the Everlasting Unclouded Light of His people.  Oh how different is the land we are going to, from this wilderness through which we are now passing.

I remain
Dearest Sir
Your most obedt. and obliged Servant
                John Newton


The moon in silver glory shone,
And not a cloud in sight;
When suddenly a shade began
To intercept her light.

How fast across her orb it spread,
How fast her light withdrew!
A circle, tinged with languid red
Was all appeared in view.

While many with unmeaning eye
Gaze on Thy works in vain;
Assist me, Lord, that I may try
Instruction to obtain.

Fain would my thankful heart and lips
Unite in praise to Thee;
And meditate on Thy eclipse
In sad Gethsemane.

Thy people’s guilt, a heavy load
(When standing in their room)
Deprived Thee of the light of God,
And filled Thy soul with gloom.

How punctually eclipses move,
Obedient to Thy will
Thus shall Thy faithfulness and love,
Thy promises fulfil.

Dark, like the moon without the sun,
I mourn Thine absence, Lord!
For light or comfort I have none,
But what Thy beams afford.

But low! The hour draws near apace,
When changes shall be o’er,
When I shall see Thee face to face,
And be eclipsed no more.

Note: Provided the sky is clear, a total eclipse of the moon should be visible in London (UK) on the night of 27th July 2018.

Extracted from LW148