William was a very troubled and wayward teenager. In desperation, his father wrote to the president of Moody Bible Institute, and begged him to allow the enrollment of his son. Since the college was open to serious Bible students, the president was at first resistant, but finally agreed that Newell would be enrolled with the proviso that he would meet with the president daily, and would take his studies seriously.
A father's prayers, a college president's commitment, and the three steps forward, two steps back efforts of Newell eventually resulted in the young man not only graduating, but several years later returning to Moody Bible Institute as a teacher.
In 1895, William Newell put the testimony of his life into poetry format. His friend and fellow Bible teacher, Doctor Daniel Towner, Director of music at Moody Bible, read the words and knew they would be powerful when put to music. The result was the beautiful hymn At Calvary.
Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.
By God's Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I'd spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
Now I've given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!
Oh, the love that drew salvation's plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him.” (Luke 23:33)