Scripture Verse

I was blind, but now I see! John 9:25

Introduction

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John Newton
1725–1807

Words: John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779), Book 1, num­ber 41. Ex­cep­tion: The last stan­za is by an un­known au­thor; it ap­peared as ear­ly as 1829 in the Bap­tist Song­ster, by R. Win­chell (We­thers­field, Con­nec­ti­cut), as the last stan­za of the song Je­ru­sa­lem My Hap­py Home.

Music: New Bri­tain, Vir­gin­ia Har­mo­ny, by James P. Car­rell & Da­vid S. Clay­ton (Win­ches­ter, Vir­gin­ia: 1831) (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

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St. Peter and Paul Church, Olney
Photo by Adam Jones
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Background

This is prob­ab­ly the most po­pu­lar hymn in the Eng­lish lan­guage. Per­haps it is be­cause its words so well des­cribe the au­thor: John New­ton was a slave trad­er be­fore com­ing to Christ. The Am­er­ican Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing Sys­tem, with nar­rat­or Bill Moy­ers, made a te­le­vi­sion do­cu­ment­ary about Am­az­ing Grace in 1990.

Ironically, the hymn is sung in Har­ri­et Beech­er Stowe’s 1852 nov­el Un­cle Tom’s Ca­bin by the ti­tu­lar Un­cle Tom, a slave him­self. In ad­di­tion to New­ton’s words, Tom sang the final stan­za be­low. Though that stan­za ap­peared in the 1829 Bap­tist Song­ster, Un­cle Tom’s Ca­bin may be the first time the words When we’ve been there ten thou­sand years are used as part of Amaz­ing Grace.

Wethersfield, Con­nec­ti­cut, where the Bap­tist Song­ster was pu­blished, is on­ly a cou­ple of miles from Stowe’s home town of Hart­ford, Con­nec­ti­cut. In­ter­est­ing­ly, there is al­so a town named New Bri­tain just out­side Hart­ford.

This hymn was sung at the fu­ne­ral of Am­er­ican pre­si­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan in 2004.

Background

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 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.

Additional Scripture Verse

Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul. Psalm 66:16