9 Amazing Things about “Amazing Grace”

January 10, 2011

“Amazing Grace” lyrics by John Newton (1725-1807)

1. The lyrics were written by a reformed British slave trader turned minister who wrote it for a New Year’s Day church service in 1773.

2. The tune for Amazing Grace is an early American melody and was not matched to the words until 1835 in William Walker’s Southern Harmony. Until then it was set to a variety of tunes.

3. The final stanza-‘When we’ve been there ten thousand years’-was added by Edwin Othello Excell in 1909 and was taken from another hymn.  

4. Amazing Grace is considered to be the anthem of the Cherokee Nation because the song was sung on the Trail of Tears during 1838-39.

5. The first gospel recording of Amazing Grace was made in 1926 by Rev. H. R. Tomlin. Over 3200 different recordings now exist.

6. Amazing Grace was sung at the funerals of Richard Nixon, Sonny Bono, Barry Goldwater, Joe DiMaggio and John Kennedy Jr.

7. After his time in the slave trade, it took John Newton three decades to convert to the abolitionist cause. He was influenced by young Wilberforce who admired Newton as a mentor.

8. Newton died over 200 years ago in 1807, the same year the British slave trade was finally abolished due to the efforts of a young man whom Newton had mentored (William Wilberforce; 1759 – 1833).

9. Wilberforce’s Christian faith led him to consider leaving politics for the ministry. John Newton, his elder mentor, persuaded young Wilberforce to “serve God where he was.” Wilberforce realized that his political life could be used for the service of God and he became the foremost foe of slavery and advocate for moral reform in his generation.

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