Amazing Grace

John Newton
William Walker
Ephesians 2
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God






"The Word of God is not to be used as a lottery;
nor is it designed to instruct us by shreds and scraps,
which, detached from their proper places, have no determinate import;
but it is to furnish us with just principles,
right apprehensions to regulate our judgments and affections,
and thereby to influence and direct our conduct."
~John Newton

William Walker (1809-1875)
An American Baptist song leader and composer, who joined
John Newton's verses to "New Britain" in his "Southern Harmony" Book.
This forms the song that has become "Amazing Grace"

An 1847 publication of "Southern Harmony",
showing the title "New Britain" and shape note music.

The title "Amazing Grace" is attributed to King David's response, when the prophet Nathan, tells David God will preserve his family lineage forever.
1 Chronicles 17:16-17 KJV
16 And David the king came and sat before the Lord, and said,
Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
17 And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house
for a great while to come & hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God

The first verse in "Amazing Grace" is relatable to the story of the Prodigal Son and the Forgiving Father, in the gospel of Luke; as well as the healing of the man blind from birth, in the gospel of John. We are all blind from our natural birth. It is when we are born again of the spirit, that we can see (in part). When Christ returns, we will see him as he is, and have our new bodies. This ties in so well with  King David's response to the prophet Nathan. He stood in awe of the greatness of God's favor in his life. Yet, he expresses hope in an even greater eternal dwelling and future reward. (Luke 15:11-24; John 9:1-41)
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
(Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found...)
Was blind, but now I see.
(John 9:25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner [or no], I know not:
one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.)

"The vicarage in Olney, where Newton wrote the hymn that would become "Amazing Grace," was a village of about 2,500 residents whose main industry was making lace by hand. The people were mostly illiterate and many of them were poor.[1] Newton's preaching was unique in that he shared many of his own experiences from the pulpit; many clergy preached from a distance, not admitting any intimacy with temptation or sin. He was involved in his parishioners' lives and was much loved, although his writing and delivery were sometimes unpolished.[2] But his devotion and conviction were apparent and forceful, and he often said his mission was to 'break a hard heart and to heal a broken heart'."[3]

Luke 15:11-24 KJV
The Prodigal Son and the Forgiving Father
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country,
and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land;
and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country;
and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat:
and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said,
How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off,
his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him;
and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Multiple Versions of the song Amazing Grace

Quotes in Frames: All quotes by John Newton, which I added to graphics, are in the Public Domain in the US.
Song Background Photo: By T. Sulman - Martin, Bernard (1950), John Newton: A Biography, William Heinemann, Ltd., illustration between pages 222 and 223. Public Domain in the US. I cropped the photo to 6x4 size, and added some transparency to the image. I also added text lyrics of "Amazing Grace" to the edited image. Lyrics by John Newton, in the Public Domain in the US.
New Britain Shape Note Music: An 1847 publication of "Southern Harmony", showing the title "New Britain" and shape note music. Southern Harmony was published by William Walker. The image is hosted at the U.S. Library of Congress in the Public Domain in the US.
John Newton Portrait: By Joseph Collier the Younger, after John Russell - The Cowper and Newton Museum, Public Domain in the US.
William Walker Portrait:  By Unknown - CyberHymnal, and p. 112 of Turner, Steve (2002). Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song, HarperCollins. ISBN 0060002190, Public Domain in the US.

[1] Aitken, Jonathan (2007). p.224. John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace, Crossway Books. 
[2] Martin, Bernard (1950). pp.208-217. John Newton: A Biography, William Heinemann, Ltd., London.
[3] Pollock, John (2009). "Amazing Grace: The great Sea Change in the Life of John Newton".