Insights on the Christian Life from John Newton

Insights on the Christian Life from John Newton

Amazing Grace” is recognizable by virtually every American regardless of background or religious affiliation. Most are aware that this hymn was written by John Newton – a former slave trader turned Anglican priest living in the 18th century. What may come as a surprise is that this hymn – and hundreds of others, like “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy,” “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” and “Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder” – were born out of a pastor’s heart. They were written during his 40+ years of pastoring congregations in England to encourage and inspire the congregations under his care.

“Are not you amazed sometimes,” Newton once wrote in a letter in 1767, “that you should have so much as a hope, that, poor and needy as you are, the Lord thinketh of you?” He continued:

Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power. …

Wait on the Lord, and He will enable you to see more and more of the power and grace of our High Priest.

The more you know Him, the better you will trust Him: the more you trust Him, the better you will love Him; the more you love Him, the better you will serve Him.

From Olney Hymns: In Three Books, W. Oliver. 1779.

Even today, his hymns bear fruit for those who meditate on the lyrics and music. Who was this man, and what can we learn from the hymns he wrote? I hope we can explore these questions in an upcoming Sunday Morning Class from June 2 – 23.

Matt McClure
Ruling Elder, Southeast Neighborhood | Director of Music Ministry | mattmcclure​

Matt's first foray into church musicianship was in his 4th grade year on the stage of a little Presbyterian church in Knoxville, TN. Even then, he knew he was made to play music, and he focused his studies on that pursuit. In 2003, the McClures moved to the Triangle for Matt to work at UNC-Chapel Hill as one of the band directors and the saxophone teacher. In 2013, he started working part-time in the music ministry of Church of the Good Shepherd; in 2016, the Lord called him to the idea of serving full-time as the Music Director at CGS. In addition to this role, he continues to teach saxophone at UNC and enjoys performing on his saxophone. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Mary Joan, and together they have the greatest job on Earth in raising two elementary-aged children, Sara and Eli, who make them smile and laugh everyday.