“Amazing Grace” is one of America’s best-loved hymns, and may be the most popular hymn in the world. The text was written by John Newton, the former slave trader-turned preacher, and was first published in his Olney Hymns, which contained the work of Newton and his friend William Cowper (God Moves in a Mysterious Way).
This hymn reminds us of God’s grace given to undeserving sinners. We were once lost in sin and wretched in his sight, but were given spiritual life by the gracious hand of God (Ephesians 2:1-5). The lyrics outline the progression of the Christian faith – being saved by God’s grace, being protected by his grace, and then praising him eternally for his grace.
Newton’s amazement at grace continued until he died. It is reported that near his death, he proclaimed with a loud voice during a sermon, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!” May our attitude be the same.
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.
’Twas 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.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
Text: John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779
Verse 6 from A Collection of Sacred Ballads, 1790
Tune: NEW BRITAIN, from Carrell and Clayton’s Virginia Harmony, 1831