Amazing Grace by John Newton (1779)

Blue Veil by Tom Darin Liskey

AMAZING GRACE
John Newton

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 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.


Did Newton inspire the writers of Europe’s Romantic movement? Various critics have seen him as anticipating Blake’s prophetic vision, or as a source for Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or for episodes in Wordsworth’s “Prelude.”  One thing is certain: Amazing Grace is the best known hymn of all time, and its words are carved into the heart of millions.

As Terry Glaspey explains in 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

“Amazing Grace” debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s collection Olney Hymns, along with 347 other hymns that one or the other of them had penned. At the time, “Amazing Grace” did not distinguish itself as more significant than any of the others, and for a time it lapsed into obscurity. It was only in the United States, during the Second Great Awakening (c. 1780–1840), that the song was rediscovered and used extensively among the revivalists, who saw it as an effective way to communicate their emphasis upon human sinfulness and the necessity of reaching out for God’s grace. It fit with their passionate preaching and calls for a personal experience of salvation through repentance and an embrace of God’s grace.

It is not clear what melody was used when the hymn debuted, and it has been associated with more than twenty tunes over the years. But in 1835, when it was joined to a traditional tune by William Walker called “New Britain,” it had found its perfect pairing. This is the version of “Amazing Grace” by which it is most commonly known today, arguably the most popular and famous of all hymns. One Newton biographer estimates that it is performed about ten million times worldwide each year.

Is the song Amazing Grace part of a special memory in your life?


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

D I G  D E E P E R


Amazing Grace

John Newton

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 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.

 

 

John Newton

(1725–1807), *Evangelical divine. The son of a shipmaster, he was impressed into naval service, in the course of which he was converted on 10 Mar. (NS 21) 1748, though for some years he continued to be a slavetrader, From 1755 to 1764 he was Tide Surveyor at Liverpool. At this time he came under the influence of G. *Whitefeld, and also began studying Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac. He considered entering the Dissenting ministry, but on being offered the curacy of Olney, he was ordained by the Bp. of Lincoln in 1764. Here he collaborated with W. *Cowper in the production of the Olney Hymns (1779). In 1780 he was appointed rector of St Mary Woolnoth, London, and held this post until his death. Among the better-known of his hymns, which are remarkable for their directness and simplicity, are ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds’. He was also the author of several prose works, including letters and sermons. In theology he was a moderate *Calvinist and much influenced many leaders in the *Evangelical Revival, among them T. *Scott, W. *Wilberforce (whom he also aided in his campaign against slavery), C. *Simeon and Hannah *More.

The Life and Times of John Newton 1725–1807

1725 Newton is born in London to John & Elizabeth Newton.

1732 Elizabeth Newton dies.

1744 Newton is impressed on board H.M.S. Harwich.

1745 Newton attempts desertion and is whipped and degraded to rank of seaman.

1748 Near-shipwreck of Greyhound provokes spiritual crisis.

February 1750 Newton marries Mary Catlett, daughter of George & Elizabeth.

May 1754 Newton meets fellow believer, Captain Andrew Clunie.

November 1754 Epileptic seizure convinces Newton to leave the slave trade.

June 1755 Newton listens to George Whitefield preach in London.

August 1755 Newton begins his work as tide surveyor in Liverpool.

June 1764 Lord Dartmouth achieves ordination for Newton in the Church of England; Newton accepts curacy at Olney.

August 1764 Publication of Authentic Narrative makes public Newton’s life story.

1767 William Cowper arrives at Olney.

January 1773 Newton preaches on 1 Chronicles 17:16, 17, and writes Amazing Grace to accompany the sermon.

1774 Publication of “The Omicron Letters” offers some of Newton’s finest teachings on the spiritual life.

1779 Publication of Olney Hymns establishes Newton’s reputation as a hymn-writer.

December 1779 Church of England inducts Newton as rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London.

1780 Publication of Cardiphonia makes Newton’s extensive correspondence available to the public.

January 1783 Newton calls the first meeting of the Eclectic Society.

December 1785 William Wilberforce visits Newton’s home.

1788 William Pitt calls Newton before the Privy Council on the subject of the slave trade.

December 1807 Newton dies in London.

1726 Jonathan Swift publishes Gulliver’s Travels.

May 1735 George Whitefield comes to a “full assurance of faith.”

May 1738 John Wesley feels his heart “strangely warmed.”

1742 George Frederick Handel composes Messiah.

1756–1763 France and England vie for American possessions during the Seven Years’ War.

1770 Captain James Cook explores Botany Bay on the shoreline of Australia.

1776–1783 American colonies revolt and form independent nation.

1782 Charles Simeon appointed as curate-in-charge of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge.

1783 King George III appoints William Pitt as prime minister of Britain.

1787 Freed slaves found the British colony of Sierra Leone in West Africa.

1788 English convicts found British colony in Sydney, Australia.

1789 French mob storms the Bastille and begins a revolution.

1797 Prominent evangelicals found the Church Missionary Society.

1807 Britain abolishes the slave trade in her colonies.

1834 Parliament passes the Abolition of Slavery Act.

Sources and Resources

“The Life and Times of John Newton 1725–1807,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 81: John Newton: Author of “Amazing Grace” (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 2004).

Coll. edn. of his Works by R. Cecil (6 vols., London, 1808). Newton pub. much of his religious correspondence anonymously in Omicron (1774), Cardiphonia (2 vols., 1781), Letters to a Wife (2 vols., 1793), and Letters to the Rev. W. Bull (posthumous, 1847). Journal of a Slave Trader (John Newton) 1750–1754 ed. B. [D.] Martin and M. Spurrell (1962) F. J. Hamilton (ed.), ‘Out of the Depths’, being the Autobiography of the Rev. John Newton (1916). Memoir by R. Cecil (London, 1808). Other Lives by J. Bull (ibid., c. 1868), B. [D.] Martin (ibid., 1950), and J. [C.] Pollock, Amazing Grace (ibid., 1981). D. E. Demaray, The Innovation of John Newton (1725–1807): Synergism of Word and Music in Eighteenth Century Evangelism (Texts and Studies in Religion, 36; Lewiston, NY, etc. [1988]), D. B. Hindmarsh, John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition (Oxford, 1996). M. L. Loane, Oxford and the Evangelical Succession (1950), pp. 81–132.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1150–1151.

Bond, Douglas. The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts. Crawfordsville, IN: Reformation Trust, 2013.
Cook, Faith. Our Hymn Writers and Their Hymns. Faverdale North, UK: Evangelical Press, 2005.
Houghton, Elsie. Classic Christian Hymn Writers. Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publishing, 1982.
Ryden, Ernest Edwin. The Story of Our Hymns. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1930.
Smith, Jane Stuart, and Betty Carlson. Great Christian Hymn Writers. Wheaton: Crossway, 1997.
Turner, Steve. Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Song. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
Watts, Isaac. A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody, 1707.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Tom Darin Liskey

 

Tom Darin Liskey

Art: Blue Veil

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

This article appeared originally in  Change Seven literary magazine.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey

 

Terry Glaspey

 

Terry Glaspey

I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.

Let’s explore together!

Terry

Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE

Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.

He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know:  Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.

Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.

He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.

Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com

 

Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Order it HERE today.