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Updated 05/28/2013

 

Amazing Grace


John Newton

"Amazing Grace" is a well-known Christian hymn. The words were written c. 1772 by John Newton.  Newton was born in Wapping, London, the son of John Newton, a shipmaster in the Mediterranean service.  His father had planned to send him to take up a position at a sugar plantation in Jamaica but, on his way in 1743, he was pressed into naval service, and became a midshipman aboard the HMS Harwich. Having attempted to desert, Newton was recaptured, put in irons and reduced to the rank of a common seaman, and was destined for a long voyage to the East Indies when, as his ship was getting supplies for the journey at Madeira, he was exchanged and transferred to a merchant ship engaged in the African slave trade and bound for west Africa.

 

It was six months later that he sought to stay on the coast of Guinea, with the intention of making his fortune as a trader in the islands close to Sierra Leone but, instead, became a servant and found himself brutally used by his master, suffering starvation, illness and exposure.

It was this period that Newton later remembered as the time he was a "once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa." Eventually, his fortunes improved and he was found by a ship’s captain who had been asked by Newton’s father to look out for him on his next voyage.

Lyrics by John Newton

 

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found;
Was blind, but now I see.

 

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fear relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
We have already come.
'Twas grace that brought us safe thus far,
And grace will lead us home

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 first begun.

 

The Lord has promised good to me,
 His Word my hope secures.
 He will my shield and portion be
 As long as life endures.

 

And when this heart and flesh shall fail
 And mortal life shall cease,
 I shall possess within the veil
 A life of health and peace.