Amazing Grace Lyrics

History and Lyrics to 'Amazing Grace' by John Newton

Amazing Grace Lyrics
Snap Decision / Getty Images

"Amazing Grace," the enduring Christian hymn, is one of the most well-known and beloved spiritual songs ever written.

Amazing Grace Lyrics

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

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

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

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.

--John Newton, 1725-1807

John Newton's Amazing Grace

The lyrics to "Amazing Grace" were penned by the Englishman John Newton (1725-1807). Once the captain of a slave ship, Newton converted to Christianity after an encounter with God in a violent storm at sea.

The change in Newton's life was radical. Not only did he become an evangelical minister for the Church of England, but he also fought slavery as a social justice activist. Newton inspired and encouraged William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a British member of Parliament who fought to abolish slave trading in England.

Newton's mother, a Christian, taught him the Bible as a young boy. But when Newton was seven years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. At 11, he left school and began taking voyages with his father, a merchant navy captain.

He spent his teen years at sea until he was forced to join the Royal Navy in 1744. As a young rebel, he eventually deserted the Royal Navy and was discharged to a slave trading ship.

Newton lived as an arrogant sinner until 1747, when his ship was caught in a fierce storm and he finally surrendered to God. After his conversion, he eventually left the sea and became an ordained Anglican minister at the age of 39.

Newton's ministry was inspired and influenced by John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield.

In 1779, together with the poet William Cowper, Newton published 280 of his hymns in the popular Olney Hymns. "Amazing Grace" was part of the collection.

Until he died at the age of 82, Newton never stopped wondering at the grace of God that had saved an "old African blasphemer." Not long before his death, Newton preached in a loud voice, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!"

"Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)"

In 2006, Chris Tomlin released a contemporary version of "Amazing Grace," the theme song for the 2007 film Amazing Grace. The historical drama celebrates the life of William Wilberforce, a zealous believer in God and human rights activist who battled through discouragement and illness for two decades to end the slave trade in England.

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

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

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.

Sources

  • Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 170). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
  • Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). Introduction. In 131 Christians everyone should know (p. 89). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.