Amazing Grace

Template:About "Amazing Grace" is one of the most well-known Protestant hymns. The words were written by John Newton; they form a part of the Olney Hymns that he worked on, with William Cowper and other hymnodists.

John Newton (17251807) was the captain of a slave ship. On 10 May 1748 returning home during a storm he experienced a "great deliverance". In his journal he wrote that the ship was in grave danger of sinking. He exclaimed "Lord have mercy upon us". He continued to traffic in slaves thereafter, nonetheless.

The now familiar and traditional melody of the hymn was not composed by Newton, and the words were sung to a number of tunes before the now inseparable melody was chanced upon.

There are two different tunes to the words. "New Britain" first appears in a shape note hymnal from 1831 called Virginia Harmony,. Any original words sung to the tune are now lost. The melody is believed to be Scottish or Irish in origin; it is pentatonic and suggests a bagpipe tune; the hymn is frequently performed on bagpipes and has become associated with that instrument. The other tune is the so-called "Old Regualr Baptist" tune. It was sung by the Congregation of the Little Zion Church, Jeff, Kentucky on the album "The Ritchie Family of Kentucky" on Folkways (1958).

The association with bagpipes is a relatively modern phenomenon; for over a century the tune was nearly forgotten in the British Isles until the folk revival of the 1960s began carrying traditional musicians both ways between the British Isles and the USA (where Amazing Grace had remained a very popular hymn). It was little know outside of church congregations or folk festivals until Arthur Penn's film "Alice's Restaurant" (1969). Lee Hays of the Weavers leads the worshipers in "Amazing Grace".

Newton's lyrics have become a favourite for Christians of all denominations, largely because the hymn vividly and briefly sums up the Christian doctrine of Divine grace. The lyrics are loosely based around the text of Ephesians 2:4-8.

It has also become known as a favorite with supporters of freedom and human rights, both Christian and non-Christian, as it is believed by many to be a song against slavery, as Newton was once a slave trader. He continued to be a slave trader for several years after his experience, but with more compassion. Later he became a clergyman. The song has been sung by many notable musical performers.

The hymn was quite popular among both sides in the American Civil War.



Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ'd!
Thro' many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Some versions of the hymn include an additional verse:

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'd first begun.

This verse is not by Newton. It was originally from a hymn called "Jerusalem, My Happy Home." It was added to a version of "Amazing Grace" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, as it appears in her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Uncle Tom has pieced the lyrics of several hymns together; those who learned the lyrics from the novel have assumed that it belongs.

Some versions include still another verse:

Shall I be wafted through the skies,
on flowery beds of ease,
where others strive to win the prize,
and sail through bloody seas.

This verse has been recorded by Pete Seeger.

See also

Amazing Grace musical

A musical by Mal Pope has been written and goes by the name of Amazing Grace. However, this musical does not refer to the life of John Newton and the grace he found, but to the 1904 Welsh Revival. The musical focuses in onto the life story of Evan Roberts who claimed to have had a vision in which God gave him a cheque with 100,000 souls written on it. Certainly this number had been reached by the end of the revival.


The hymn has been recorded by countless artists over the last century. Two versions have made the UK Singles Chart; between 1970 and 1972, a version by Judy Collins spent 67 weeks in the charts, a record for a female artist, and peaked at number 5. And in 1972, an instrumental version by the Pipes and Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards spent five weeks at number one, also reaching the top spot in Australia.

  • Download recordingAmazing Grace” a common meter hymn from the Library of Congress' John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip; performed by Mr. and Mrs. N.V. Braley on 5 May 1939 at the home of Beal D. Taylor near Medina, Texas

External links

fr:Amazing Grace ja:アメイジンググレイス sv:Amazing Grace


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