John Newton/Virginia Harmony
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 has 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.
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.
Amazing Grace was written by John Newton to commemorate his personal experience of being saved by amazing grace. Through the years other writers composed additional verses to the hymn, which eventually became known as Amazing Grace.
When John was eleven years old he went to sea with his father. They shared six voyages together before Newton senior retired. In 1744 John was impressed into service on a man-of-war. He found conditions intolerable, and soon he deserted. But he was very quickly captured and given a public flogging.
Finally he was exchanged into service on a slave ship, and brutally abused by the slave trader. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known his father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, where he also worked the slave trade.
On a homeward voyage in 1748 he was struggling with a violent storm. He recorded in his journal that he thought all was lost and he shouted, “Lord, have mercy upon us.”
Later he came to feel that God addressed him through that storm and that grace had begun to work in his life. That day was May 10, 1748 – when he first subjected his own will to a higher power.