A few days ago, while listening to a Christian Radio, (chvn 95.1 fm), the song Amazing Grace started playing. For some reason, I found myself pondering the song and the origin. This is one of the most recognizable of all songs, religious or otherwise. I think even the devil sings it. It is so popular that I’m sure many if not all of us, sing it from memory without really paying much attention to the lyrics. Here’s a little blog about the man behind the song and its origin.
English man John Newton, was the songwriter of this historic song. For such a deep and soul baring song, one would think that he must have been a deeply devout christian, testifying to the saving grace of God. Well sort of.
John was forced into military service and later, on his own volition, became a slave trader. Apparently, he had one of the worst sailors’ vocabulary that his captain had ever heard. (He was the most profane man the captain had ever met). In other words, he cursed like a sailor and more than a sailor.
John Newton was not always religious, even though his mother tried to instill it in him. In fact, he denounced God at one part in his life. It took a near-death experience for him to return to the fold. (He cried out for God’s intervention when the ship he was on was caught in a storm). That incident marked a turning point in his life and one that he would remember for the rest of his life.
Contrary to claims, Newton did not write the song in a moment of clarity while on a slave ship. In fact, after his conversion he continued to dabble in slave trading and only gave it up after being ill. He wrote Amazing Grace some years after his last voyage.
Amazing Grace is a strong song. It speaks volumes about God’s love and his forgiveness. This blog is not to take anything away from John Newton or to judge him in any way for his participation in one of the darkest era of humanity, (Although I think he should have given it up after he found God but maybe his conviction and conversion was not fully completed). He left us with a great song.
Years after hanging up his slave trader hat, Newton joined forces with abolitionist William Wilberforce in his fight against slavery. For such a person like John Newton, it would have taken an amount of saving grace to redeem him from what he was. A bad boy, a slave trader and a man who turned his back on God. It must have really been an Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like him. And me. And you.
Amazing grace, how sweet thou art…