John Newton Understood Winter

John Newton Understood Winter

It doesn't get above freezing, it's dark by 5PM, and snow is everywhere. Hello, Winter in Upper Midwest America. You are cold and long.

But however cold and long, the best way to bear Winter is to shovel up every bit of metaphor possible. God does give us four seasons for a reason. And life is not always Spring.

In the flavor of Christian Hedonism, and aware of what seasons are for, John Newton penned the hymn, "None upon Earth I Desire Beside Thee."

Newton gets it. May we get it, too.

None upon Earth I Desire Beside Thee

How tedious and tasteless the hours,
When Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flow’rs,
Have lost all their sweetness to me.
The mid-summer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay;
But when I am happy in Him,
December’s as pleasant as May.

His name yields the richest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disperses my gloom,
And makes all within me rejoice:
I should, were He always thus nigh,
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal so happy as I,
My summer would last all the year.

Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place
Would make any change in my mind.
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine,
If Thou art my sun and my song;
Say, why do I languish and pine,
And why are my winters so long?
O drive these dark clouds from my sky,
Thy soul-cheering presence restore;
Or take me unto Thee on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.

The Works of John Newton, Vol. 3, 358.

(HT: Tom Steller)

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, and is the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary .