Who wrote the lyrics to ‘Amazing Grace’?

Former slave ship captain and clergyman John Newton wrote the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ in 1772, for his 1793 New Year’s Day service. The hymn’s emotional lyrics tell Newton’s story, how he believed God saved him and showed him the errors of his ways. The hymn was then published in 1779 as part of the Olney Hymns, a group of hymns he and his poet friend, William Cowpe wrote.  It was set to the now very familiar tune in 1835 by American composer William Walker.

What are the lyrics to the hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’?

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I am found
Was blind, but now I see

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‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

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Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come
‘Twas grace has brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home

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When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun

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Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I am found
Was blind, but now I see

Who was John Newton?

When he left the navy atheist Newton became involved with the slave trade as a ship captain. Although he remained a captain until 1754-5, his conversion to the Christian faith began in 1748 when a violent storm battered his ship, causing him to ask God for mercy. As a result he started questioning his role in the trade, and studying Christianity. He later became an abolitionist, as well as a clergyman, working alongside William Wilberforce to abolish the slave trade, which finally happened in 1807 just before his death.

Recommended recording of Amazing Grace: Jessye Norman (soprano) The Ambrosian Singers, Sir Alexander Gibson

The 2006 film Amazing Grace featured John Newton’s and William Wilberforce’s fight to abolish the slave trade.

Top image by Getty Images



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