Artist & Tune
About the Song
"Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn published in 1779, with words written by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807). Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life's path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed (conscripted) into service in the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland, so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. He continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.
"Amazing Grace" was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year's Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses; it may have been chanted by the congregation. In 1835, American composer William Walker set it to the tune known as "New Britain" in a shape note format. This is the version most frequently sung today.