Vanity of Life

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John Newton, 1779, from Olney Hymns, vol. 1, hymn 54

The evils that beset our path
Who can prevent or cure?
We stand upon the brink of death
When most we seem secure.

2. If we today sweet peace possess,
It soon may be withdrawn;
Some change may plunge us in distress,
Before tomorrow's dawn.

3. Disease and pain invade our health
And find an easy prey;
And oft, when least expected, wealth
Takes wings and flies away.

4. A fever or a blow can shake
Our wisdom's boasted rule;
And of the brightest genius make
A madman or a fool.

5. The gourds, from which we look for fruit,
Produce us only pain;
A worm unseen attacks the root,
And all our hopes are vain.

6. I pity those who seek no more
Than such a world can give;
Wretched they are, and blind, and poor,
And dying while they live.

7. Since sin has filled the earth with woe,
And creatures fade and die;
Lord wean our hearts from things below,
And fix our hopes on high.

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