Posts tagged ‘John Newton’

November 15, 2015

2015-11-15 Notes from the Bench

“Amazing Grace” by John Newton

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate


Today at All Saints’ we celebrate Seabury Sunday, remembering the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, Samuel Seabury. During our 9:00 and 11:00 am liturgies, the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band will offer the processional and recessional music and accompany the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing Grace was written by the English poet and Anglican clergyman, John Newton (1725-1807) and published in 1779 in Olney Hymns. Newton was pressed to serve the British Royal Navy and became involved with the Atlantic slave trade. During a violent storm off the coast of Ireland in 1748, Newton prayed for God’s mercy and protection, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. When writing “Amazing Grace”, he drew upon his own experience of conversion to write a text that enshrines the universal truths of salvation. The fifth verse was not written by Newton, but is by an anonymous author that was added to Newton’s text in various American hymn collections and is now the settled final stanza of this hymn. “Amazing Grace” was sung extensively in the United States during the “Second Great Awakening” of the early nineteenth century and has been included in American hymnals for over 150 years. This text has been translated into numerous languages and adapted into multiple cultural styles. “Amazing Grace” first appeared in an Episcopal hymn in the 1981 supplement, Lift Every Voice and Sing and followed up by its inclusion in The Hymnal 1982.



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