Monday, July 25, 2011

Amazing Grace and John Newton

July 24th marks the Birthday of John Newton, composer of the greatest song ever written; Amazing Grace. This was "Amazing Grace Sunday" at Hope Baptist Church. We shared with our church the story of this great man of God.

John Newton

Born July 24, 1725. John Newton followed in his father’s footsteps, working on merchant ships in the Mediterranean. He began his first voyage at age eleven. Years later he began working on slave ships. For nine years he was involved in the slave trade, but during this time God began to work in his life. After years of struggling with a life of sin He trusted Christ as his Savior.

In 1764 Newton became an Anglican Priest and was appointed to the Church at Olney, England. There he met William Cowper, a poet and collaborated with him on many hymns composing the “Olney Hymnal” which included great hymns such as, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” and “Faiths Review and Expectation” which would become the great hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

Newton wrote years later about the horrible condition of slavery and the slave trade. His friend William Wilberforce, brought about the Parliamentary Slave Trade Act of 1807. Newton died December 21, 1807 and was buried in Olney. His epitaph reads:

"John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy."

Facts about Amazing Grace

  • There are approximately 30,000,000 references to the song on the Internet.
  • It was written in 1779 by John Newton
  • The sixth stanza first appeared in Harriett Beacher Stowe’s book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The actual origin of the verse is unknown.
  • The original hymn is unknown. The tube most familiar today is the tune, “New Britain” assigned it by composer William Walker in 1835
  • Internet source, “All Music” lists over 6000 versions of the song
  • It was first recorded a Capella in 1922 by the Sacred Harp Choir.
  • One of the most popular recordings was in 1947 by singer Malahia Jackson. It became an anthem for the civil rights movement in the 1950’s
  • In 1970 Judy Collins’ recording of Amazing Grace made Billboard Magazine’s “Hot 100”
  • It was performed or recorded by Folk singers Alan and John Lomax, Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Sam Cook, The Byrds, The Lemonheads, Elvis Presley Skeeter Davis, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart and the Amazing Rhythm Aces to name a few.
  • It has become world wide, the most recognizable song of any genre in the world.
  • the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, senior Scottish regiment of the British Army, recorded an instrumental version featuring a bagpipe soloist accompanied by a pipe and drum band.

Amazing Grace

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.

(Written later: anonymously)

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.