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.
What Christian hasn’t sung those famous words—probably many, many times?
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.
Do we think about the words when we sing songs like this? Only God’s grace—in the person of the Holy Spirit—could convict us of our sins and our need to be saved, and only that same grace could relieve the fears brought on by that conviction.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come.
Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
How wonderful that we can have absolute confidence in that saving grace. How comforting to know that when we have given ourselves to Jesus nothing and no one can pluck us out of His hand.
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 first begun.
What a magnificent statement of the whole gospel in a few brief lines this song is. A people lost in the clutches of sin can be saved by the blood of Jesus under the grace of God. Not only that, but once removed from those clutches, we can know that grace will lead us all the way to our heavenly home. And then, in as close an explanation of eternity as the human mind can come, the writer asserts that ten thousand years in heaven won’t reduce the amount of time we’ll have to look forward to spending there.
What kind of man wrote this blessed song? John Newton was raised by a devout Christian mother who exposed him to the gospel and led him to memorize Bible passages and hymns. Like so many of us, however, John drifted into the world after his mother’s death.
He served in the British Navy and deserted, was captured, and was flogged. More voyages, dangers, toils and snares followed, just as he stated in verse three of the song.
On the night of March 9, 1748, John was jolted awake by a brutal storm that suddenly engulfed the ship. In great peril, he cried out to the Lord the next day. That experience was a turning point in Newton’s life. He later wrote he never allowed the anniversary of that date to pass unnoticed—how God came from on high and delivered him out of deep waters.
After a few years of halting spiritual growth, John Newton became one of the most powerful preachers in British history and authored many hymns, of which Amazing Grace is the best known. He added a verse near the end which has been pretty much forgotten through the years:
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine;
But God, Who called me here below, shall be forever mine.
What a beautiful verse, comparing the temporal nature of our universe with the eternal nature of God. How have we lost sight of this verse when we sing his hymn?
What’s your favorite hymn? What can you tell us about its author and/or the circumstances which prompted him or her to write it?
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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