Music

Amazing Grace

January 14, 2018

Amazing Grace – a solo guitar instrumental based on the spiritual song by John Newton.

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.

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch; like me! What is the sound of grace? What is John Newton writing about? I think it is quite curious to talk about grace having a sound. John Newton was a former slave ship captain; He had had a profound experience of the Lord’s help when travelling by ship previously; he had called on the Lord to save him as the ship was in peril during a storm and was filling with water. After praying, the cargo moved in the ship and blocked the hole so that the vessel didn’t go down: the Lord intervened. This set John on a journey: he decided to live a more pious life. This involved certain lifestyle adjustments, maybe a conversion of sorts. John continued to captain slave ships however. This wasn’t the whole story. John intimates that his true conversion came much later: He doesn’t say how, what, or when, but when I hear this song it is clear to me.

So, what is the sound of grace? The sound of grace was the sound of African slaves, on John’s slave ship, singing God’s praise. The power on their praise lifted up to the Lord saved John: “how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch; like me!” I am sure from the outside, the slaves looked pretty wretched, and no doubt were suffering greatly. However, spiritually, they were seated in heavenly places, ministering to the Lord in praise: the captain of the slave ship was the wretched one. John received salvation, the astonishing, amazing, grace of the Lord’s forgiveness and from this point John’s life began to change from the inside out. So often when we pray the Lord’s answer comes through men, people. The Lord Jesus entrusted the gospel to the Apostles and gave them the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit went from being with them, to in them, and they turned the world upside down. This story of John Newton’s salvation reminds me of the story of Paul and Silas in prison, recounted in Acts 16:25-34, where the jailor was saved. Likewise, I believe the Lord used the slaves’ and their singing of praises, to save John. The hymn Amazing Grace is a testimony to this, and to the reality, that we will go on praising the Lord into eternity.

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.

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

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