Facts about "Amazing Grace"
Amazing Grace was written in 1772 by John Newton (1725-1807), an English poet and Anglican clergyman. There were more than 20 melodies created for the hymn but the most known tune used today was composed by William Walker in 1835.
John Newton did not grow up religious. His personal experience and suffering were the basis of the very words he scribbled on the hymn. Newton was born in Wapping, London in the year 1725. His father was brought up as a Catholic while his mother was Independent and not attached with the Anglican Church. Her mother died of tuberculosis when he was six years old. His father was a merchant on ships and when he was eleven, he became an apprentice of his father, but it was said that Newton wasn't very obedient during his career. He once denounced his faith when one of his shipmates discussed to him a book called “Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times” by Third Earl of Shaftesbury. He was pressed into the navy because of his disobedience but he deserted it because he fell in love with his family friend, Mary “Polly” Catlett.
He was traded as a crew to a slave ship because of his abandonment. In the slave ship, he was imprisoned, chained and almost starved to death because of creating obscene poems and songs about his captain. He later became a slave on a plantation in Sierra Leone and was found by another ship called Greyhound. A violent storm came upon the ship in March 1748, and it was when Newton, for the first time since he disregarded his faith and denounced God as a myth, that he called upon the Lord. It was the moment when he considered God’s power and mercy to take control of their life. He called, “If this will not do, then Lord have mercy upon us!”
Newton ended seafaring several years after the storm and studied Christian Theology. He became a curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he became friends with Willliam Cowper, a famous English poet and hymnodist who failed his law career and suffered bouts of insanity that lead him to attempt suicide multiple times. They both have written poems and hymns together for each prayer meeting in Olney. "1 Chronicles 17:16–17", Amazing Grace's original title, was used for the first in a prayer meeting on January 1, 1773 and was published in 1779 under Olney Hymns. Newton wrote the hymn to remind us that God is walking with us each day of our lives. Like David, he was overcome by the power of His grace even though he was undeserving and unworthy. Amazing Grace is a hymn of gratitude to God for simply being there always for us.