The Story Behind: Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
CLICK TO LISTEN: Amazing Grace

Learn more about the hymncharts arrangement of Amazing Grace.

By Taylor Brantley

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

Wretch indeed. The man behind the lyrics did not write them lightly. His story is one of many throughout history that show the amazing grace of God, and that no one is beyond His forgiveness.

John Newton was a slave trader in his early years, and openly mocked religion. What better way to start a story of God’s grace? Newton thought himself invincible – beyond the need of God – yet all that changed on a stormy sea in 1748. Newton would have been used to storms at sea, for most of his life was spent there; first with the British navy, then transporting slaves. But this storm was especially violent, and it brought Newton to his knees as he pleaded for the God he loved to mock to save him and his crew. Newton first felt the grace of God when he was replaced on deck by another crew member. Within mere minutes, the storm increased its rage and killed the crewman on deck. All the rest of the crew, including Newton, survived.

The experience at sea planted the seed of Newton’s faith, but it remained a seed for a few more years still. Newton continued on in the slave trade for six more years, but upon retirement he began studying theology. This is when the seed began to sprout into something much more. Newton became a minister, and, using his life experiences, wrote the lyrics of Amazing Grace. Originally, it was simply an accompaniment to one of his sermons, and perhaps he never meant it to be more. But the hymn took on a life of its own, and was published in more than a few books during Newton’s life. Eventually, Amazing Grace was put to music and became the hymn we know today.

During life as a minister, Newton became an advocate for the end of the slave trade. “It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was, once, an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders,” wrote Newton. His stance greatly impacted a man by the name of William Wilberforce. Wilberforce attended Newton’s church as a child, and was later mentored by him. Under Newton’s influence, Wilberforce’s purpose became working to end the slave trade, and his efforts as an English lawmaker led to the release of over 800,000 slaves.

John Newton was a wicked man who deserved death at sea. But the key component of God’s grace is that it is not earned; it is a gift made of pure, undeserved love. This is perhaps the most important concept any human can understand. It is easy, then, to see why Amazing Grace drew so many people when Newton wrote it, and why it continues to draw us today.

Article ©2022 Contact us for permission to reprint.

Hymncharts subscribers: login to download an exclusive, shorter blurb suitable for a bulletin or other church publications.

Download Amazing Grace:

Download sheet music, chord charts, tracks, multitracks and instrumental parts for Amazing Grace exclusively with a hymncharts subscription. You won’t find this arrangement on any other website.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • I love Newton’s testimony of saving grace. Many unsaved know the words, but sad to say, don’t have the heart knowledge of their meaning.

    P.S. I think you should learn how to play the trumpet. It ‘s a great instrument for hymns!


    • Kathryn Anthony
      July 6, 2023 9:21 am

      Willa Tice I’m a believer in Christ and am going through this experience with alot of ladies I know. They thing it’s ” just a song” They don’t understand what it truly means which is very sad.

  • Tolorunju Imoleayo
    January 2, 2024 10:24 am

    The song is an inspiring one… It made us see how much love he had for us, it confirm the word of the lord that says he loves us, even when we are yet sinners


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Top Arrangements

Click title to listen:

Blessed Assurance
Christ Arose
Crown Him With Many Crowns
Jesus Paid It All 2018
Holy Holy Holy

Listen to demos of all hymncharts arrangements.

90 Day Money-Back Guarantee

Learn more.