Title: “Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn, written by an English poet and clergyman named John Newton. It was first written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day in 1773. It is unknown if there was any music composed at that time to accompany the verses. It is also suggested that it could very well been chanted by the congregation without any music. It was then published in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns. The message in the song was that forgiveness and redemption are possible, regardless of the sins people commit, and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God. “Amazing Grace” is also one of the most recognisable and commonly sung songs in the English language world.
Author: John Newton wrote the song based on his personal experience. John grew up without having any particular religious conviction. However, his life’s path was carved out by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into place due to his disobedience. He was forced into the Royal Navy, where he became a sailor and was eventually involved in the slave trade. There was one night when a massive storm shook his vessel so severely that he became fearful. He was so afraid that he called out to God for mercy. It was this moment that marked the beginning of his spiritual conversion. His involvement in slave trading only lasted a couple of years more. After which, he decided to stop going out to sea once and for all, and began studying theology.
Interesting Fact: When “Amazing Grace” was first published in 1779 by John Newton, it wasn’t very popular in England, in fact it settled into relative obscurity. Surprisingly, it was the United States that brought the song to fame during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century, when the song was used extensively. Since then, it has been associated with at least 20 other melodies, but in 1835, it was combined with a tune named “New Britain”, which is also the one that is most commonly sung today.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.