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OFTEN the public means of grace,
   Thy thirsting people’s meeting-place,
    Oppressors have beset:
Attacked them in the house of prayer,
And prison-bondage made them bear,
    Because with Thee they met.
2  But we from such assaults are freed,
Can pray, and sing, and hear, and read,
    And meet, and part in peace:
May we such freedoms duly prize,
In their improvement make us wise,
    And bless us with increase.
3  Unless Thy presence Thou afford,
Unless Thy blessing clothe the Word,
    In vain our liberty!
What would it profit to maintain
A name for life, should we remain
    Formal and dead to Thee?
4  Confirm the Word our peace allows,
Bless the provisions of Thy house,
    In hunger we have come;
Drawn by Thine invitation, Lord,
Now from the fulness of Thy Word,
    O send us thankful home.
John Newton, 1725-1807‡