“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.
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.