“Amazing Grace” is an autobiographical hymn by John Newton (1725-1807).
Formerly a seaman and first officer aboard slave ships, Newton lived a debauched, hardened life until a fearful storm at sea awakened him, and the Mercy and Grace of the LORD Jesus Christ saved him.
Newton began to cry, “Lord have mercy on us!” But, he thought, “What mercy can there be for me?” Nonetheless, he desperately prayed, and God answered. The storm abated. John Newton recorded, “On that day the Lord sent from on high and delivered me from deep waters.” He subsequently celebrated that “great deliverance” as the day of his conversion to the LORD Jesus Christ.
In 1780, Newton moved to London, where his congregational preaching reached an even greater audience. Most notably, he counseled William Wilberforce at the time of his conversion in 1785, and he helped Wilberforce in the great movement to abolish slavery by publishing in 1788 his own experiences in the slave trade. Surely there must have been great satisfaction for Newton to have struck back at his old sin of slavery and aided in its falling out of favor in the British Empire.
His wife and lifelong friend, Mary, died of cancer in 1790. He gradually went blind, but preached to the last year of his death in 1807.
Click the blue headline link at top to read the Scripture verses associated with the lyrics.