Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (John Newton, 1773-1779). One of the most identifiable songs in the English language, Amazing Grace was written by English pastor and poet John Newton, a Christian convent who based the hymn on his own struggles. Although its roots are in England, the song became a standard hymn during the Second Great Awakening (1800-1830) in America. The song’s message of faith and restoration was appropriated by America’s African American community and has become one of the most sung folk hymns in history. Amazing Grace was ubiquitous during the Civil Rights Era and has had an immeasurable influence on modern folk and gospel music. It is literally the universal anthem of hope and redemption. That Newton was a slave trader who found repentance and forgiveness imbues the lyrics with an ironic power that resonates today. We include a live version sung by the Celtic Women of 2009 and Friday’s singing of the hymn at the end of President Obama’s eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the 9 victims of the Charleston, South Carolina shootings.