Behind the Music
Amazing Grace is one of most well known hymns in the world. It was written in the late 1700's by John Newton. The story behind the hymn brings clarity to the words that Newton penned.
John Newton had spiritual influence from his mother, but she passed away when he was young. His father was also a God-fearing man. However, throughout his childhood and young adult life, John Newton rebelled against all authority structures. In fact, Newton was a deserter of the British Royal Navy. This pattern of rebellion continued for quite some time in his life.
After finally fulfilling his service, Newton entered the Atlantic Slave Trade off the coast of West Africa. At the time, he had no inclination that his deeds were evil. Yet after a fierce storm on the Atlantic one night, the grace of God put fear into the heart of the evil slave trader. After the storm, Newton began to read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis. God used this book to bring John Newton to Christ.
Today, the storm that changed the heart of John Newton can still be heard when we sing:
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.