The prodigal son, Lk 15:11-24
Afflictions, though they seem severe;
In mercy oft are sent;
They stopped the prodigal's career,
And forced him to repent.
Although he no relentings felt
Till he had spent his store;
His stubborn heart began to melt
When famine pinched him sore.
"What have I gained by sin, he said,
But hunger, shame, and fear;
My father's house abounds with bread,
While I am starving here.
I'll go, and tell him all I've done,
And fall before his face
Unworthy to be called his son,
I'll seek a servant's place."
His father saw him coming back,
He saw, and ran, and smiled;
And threw his arms around the neck
Of his rebellious child.
"Father, I've sinned--but O forgive!"
I've heard enough, he said,
Rejoice my house, my son's alive,
For whom I mourned as dead.
Now let the fatted calf be slain,
And spread the news around;
My son was dead, but lives again,
Was lost, but now is found.
'Tis thus the Lord his love reveals,
To call poor sinners home;
More than a father's love he feels,
And welcomes all that come.
John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779.