God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
We’ve all heard it. Many of us have been reduced to tears as the pipes share the mournful and yet soulful tune. And the lyrics…..it seems to me as if they had to have been written in the heavens by angels wings. If you think “Amazing Grace“ is one of my very favorite hymns, you would be correct. But how many of you really know the history of the song?
“Amazing Grace“ is a Christian hymn published in 1779….just 3 years after the American colonies became a one nation, under God! The words were penned by an English poet and minister by the name of John Henry Newton (July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807), and it was intended as a sermon about forgiveness and redemption. He shared that no matter the offense, the soul could be cleansed and delivered from despair by God’s mercy!
Newton was raised without the benefit of religious training, and had a very unhappy family life, as well. In 1743, while on the way to visit some friends, Newton was captured and pressed into the naval service by the Royal Navy. He became a midshipman aboard HMS Harwich. During a brutal storm which nearly tore his ship apart, Newton cried out to God asking for his mercy, and thus began his conversion. He suffered 20 lashes in front of the entire crew after trying to desert but he remained and later transferred service to the Pegasus, a slave ship. A problem for the crew while aboard the vessel, he was forcibly removed and abandoned in Africa where he was enslaved by an African duchess, and abused horribly. He later likened his experience to that of the slaves he had himself brutalized at one time.
He made it to freedom in 1748. Ordained in 1764 by the Church of England, he was the curate in Olney, Buckinghamshire. In later years, he became a strong supporter of the abolition of slavery. Intended as a sermon to be delivered New Years Day of 1773, “Amazing Grace“ most probably was intoned by the congregation as it was not yet set to music. It remained a relatively unknown poem in England but became used extensively in the United States. In 1835, a tune named “New Brittain” was married to the lyrics, thus giving birth to the beautiful melody we know today! It is estimated that the song is performed in the neighborhood of 10 Million times annually!
Amazing Grace Hymn
(complete version of the lyrics)
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 hath 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.
The world shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun refuse to shine; But God, who called me here below, Shall 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.
Enjoy this performance by a wonderful 7-year-old Gospel singer, Rhema Marvanne
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
Ephesians 4: 1-8 NIV
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