The 250th anniversary of the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace” is a significant milestone for both music and faith. The hymn’s popularity speaks volumes about its message — that no matter how deep our sins may be or what circumstances we find ourselves in, God’s grace can still reach us. This simple but profound truth is why it continues to resonate with people two-and-a-half centuries after its initial publication.
“Amazing Grace” has been recorded by countless artists from virtually every genre of music, including gospel, folk, rock and country. It’s been performed in churches, concert halls and on movie soundtracks. It’s been sung at presidential inaugurations, funerals for civil rights icons and national memorial services.
On January 1, 1773, John Newton, an Anglican priest and former slave ship captain, first introduced “Amazing Grace” to his congregation. The original title for the hymn was “Faith’s Review and Expectation” and it spoke of Newton’s conversion and of God’s saving power. Research conducted by the John Newton Project indicates that the hymn was likely written in the weeks leading up to New Year’s Day, which Newton spent at home in Olney. The words of the hymn were based on 1 Chronicles 17:16-17 which was also the subject of Newton’s sermon for his New Year’s Day morning service.
It’s a mystery as to what tune “Amazing Grace” was originally sung to, but the John Newton Project has done its best to find out. If you’re curious to hear what it could have sounded like, the John Newton Project website is a great place to visit. There you can listen to the English Chamber Choir perform “Amazing Grace” in a variety of different tunes. It’ll give you an idea of how the song might have been heard back in the day.
As we commemorate the 250th anniversary of this iconic hymn, let’s not forget that “Amazing Grace” is a powerful reminder of God’s love and mercy.
Take a moment to reflect on its enduring legacy as a source of healing and inspiration for generations past, present, and future.
Visit Museum of the Bible’s online Amazing Grace exhibit.
Visit the Cowper and Newton Museum Online.
Read the hymn history of Amazing Grace.
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.