“Hungry, and Faint, and Poor”

"For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness" (Ps. 107:9)

     INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to look to God that He might satisfy our longing souls and fill our hungry souls with goodness is "Hungry and Faint and Poor." The text was written by John Newton (1725-1807). Best remembered as the author of "Amazing Grace," he first published "Hungry, and Faint, and Poor" as a song to be sung "before Sermon" in his 1779 Olney Hymns, which he compiled with  poet William Cowper.  All of our books which have the hymn use a tune (Boylston) composed by Lowell Mason which is more commonly associated with Charles Wesley’s "A Charge to Keep I Have." However, the words fit perfectly with another tune (Ozrem) composed by Isaac Baker Woodbury (1819-1858). It is dated 1850. In some of our books, this tune has been used with Phoebe Cary’s "One Sweetly Solemn Thought," for which Philip Phillips composed another lovely tune.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the Newton’s text appeared with the Mason tune in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today it may be found in the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand. The tune appeared with the Cary text in Great Songs No. 2; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C., and the 1990 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; and Praise for the Lord; as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song is a reminder of our need for spiritual sustenance just as we need physical food.

I. Stanza 1 refers to our condition
"Hungry, and faint, and poor, Behold us, Lord, again
Assembled at Thy mercy’s door, Thy bounty to obtain."
 A. God wants us to recognize that we have a spiritual hunger just as the prodigal son recognize that he was perishing with physical hunger: Lk. 15:17
 B. One way that He has provided for us to be filled is for us to assemble with the saints: Heb. 10:25
 C. When we hunger and thirst after righteousness, God has promised that we shall obtain His bounty and be filled: Matt. 5:6

II. Stanza 2 refers to God’s invitation
"Thy word invites us nigh, Or we would starve indeed;
For we no money have to buy, Nor righteousness to plead."
 A. God’s word invites us to come to Him:
 B. He invites us to come free, for we have no money with which to buy what He has for us: Isa. 55:1
 C. Nor do we have any righteousness of our own to deserve God’s good things: Isa. 64:6

III. Stanza 3 refers to our seeking God’s food
"The food our spirits want, Thy hand alone can give;
O hear the prayer of faith, and grant That we may eat and live."
 A. There is a food that our spirits want because it does not perish: Jn. 6:27
 B. Only the hand of Jesus can give it to us because He is the bread of life: Jn. 6:35
 C. And only when we eat the bread that He gives can we live: Jn. 6:50

     CONCL.: One "holy desire" that all people, and especially those who claim to be Christians, should have is that hunger for the bread of life that Christ provides for us in His word. It will bring salvation to the lost soul and spiritual growth to the saved. But before we can feel it, we must recognize that we are "Hungry, and Faint, and Poor."


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