This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made Music The Story Behind The Song – Amazing Grace

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The Story Behind The Song – Amazing Grace

No study of psalms is complete without “Amazing Grace.” Amazing Grace is one of the most popular, widely published, and beloved hymns of all religions. It is often called a Baptist hymn in modern congregations. There is perhaps no more accurate description of Grace than “Awesome,” and when you consider John Newton’s biography, that’s certainly true.

John Newton was born in London in 1725, but his mother died when he was 6 years old. She was a godly and prayerful woman, and instilled in her the word of God to confirm the Bible’s Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he does not depart from his path.” The song “Amazing Grace” could be a testimony to John’s conversion and Christian life. In its original form there were six stanzas. The first three that are now known were written by John Newton. In its first edition, in 1779, Olney Hymns was entitled “Outline of Faith and Expectations.”

As we study the verses of Miraculous Grace, we see Newton’s theological knowledge in the very first verse.

What a great song Great Grace.

It saved a miserable person like me.

I was once lost, but now I am found

He was blind, but now he sees.

According to Emory H. Bancroft, the definition of Grace is “unmerited favor to sinners.” The word grace appears over 170 times in the New Testament alone. The title “wonderful grace” is not directly reminiscent of Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” It is Grace that saves us. Grace that keeps us, Grace that guides us, Grace that will one day bring us home. What John Newton said about Grace is that it has a nice ring to it, and I like the sound of it.

The line “saved a wretch like me” draws our attention to the depravity of man. Man is born without the spark of divinity; all humans are born with the depraved nature of Adam. Scriptures that prove this are Romans 3:10, 3:23, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Galatians 3:22, and I John 1:8. John Newton’s realization that man must be born again to see God is also included in these lines. Acts 4:12 declares that there is no other name by which we can be saved.

Salvation and revival are the only way to Christ. People are born confused. You don’t have to do anything to lose him, he’s lost. The only way a person can get to heaven is to be resurrected and made alive. It does and has regeneration. Regeneration is the spiritual work of the Holy Spirit that gives a person a new nature and identity of Christ. This is the meaning of “I was once lost.”

The lost condition of man is described as blindness in the scriptures: “I was blind, but now I see.” John Newton no doubt read the story of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9, where the blind man said, “I was blind, now I see.”

The second verse of Amazing Grace,

It was a grace that filled my heart with fear

and my fears were allayed.

How precious is that grace

the time I first believed.

John makes it clear that it is all grace. He is referring to the same grace that made me believe and condemned me, and when I turned to Christ, that same grace took away all my fears, and it came at that very moment, when I believed. The promise of Romans 10:9 to “believe in your heart” no doubt had John in mind as he wrote these words. Believe has the strong meaning of believing, trusting, trusting. It’s implied that you trust the chair to lift you up, but you don’t really trust the chair until you sit on it. You believe that it will sustain you and sustain you, but you have not shown your faith by sitting on it. The word believe means to entrust yourself to Christ and show your faith.

The third verse, if you know anything about John Newton’s life, says a lot to the heart:

Many perils, labors, snares,

I have already arrived.

It is the grace that has brought me safely this far

and grace will lead me home.

After the death of his mother, little John went on a ship with his father, a sea captain, at the age of 6. John later joined the British Navy, but he was a very rebellious sailor. He even left the navy and was later captured, ironed, and publicly beaten. Then he himself becomes the captain of the ship and the captain of the slave ship. John was on a long trip from Brazil, and to pass the time he was reading The Imitation of Christ, written by Thomas Kempis three centuries earlier. Then came a terrible and terrible storm, which almost sent the ship and all the crew overboard. After weathering this storm, it made John think about life and death. He knew he was lost and a sinner. Recalling the teachings of his divine mother, John knelt in repentance and received the Lord Jesus. You can only imagine the storms and dangers John was going through when he wrote these words. It was only by the grace of God that he knew that he did not die and did not go to hell.

After being saved, John will exchange his position for the pulpit. John, who loved the sea, went to work on the land and after sixteen years of study was ordained in the Anglican Church and appointed pastor in the small English town of Olney. There he wrote the words of Amazing Grace and he was so right, How sweet is the Song!!

John Newton wrote the first three verses of “Amazing Grace” and these additional verses that we don’t use and that you may not know:

The Lord has promised me good things,

His word confirms my hope;

He will be my shield and part,

As life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart perish,

And mortal life will cease,

I will possess within the veil,

A happy and peaceful life.

The world will soon melt like snow,

The sun will not shine;

But God called me here

Will be mine forever.

The fourth stanza in our hymn books, “When we have been there ten thousand years,” is anonymous and was added to Coronation Hymns by Edwin Othello Excell in 1910. The music we now use for Amazing Grace was composed in 1910 by Edwin Exell.

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