“Amazing Grace”

Author: Words: John Newton (1725-1807)
Earliest date: 1789 (reportedly composed) or 1831 (printed in Virginia Harmony)
Keywords: religious nonballad
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)


"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me." The singer describes how Jesus's grace gives him/her the confidence to face all the dangers and troubles of life.


As with many hymns, the threads [of this song's history] are a bit tangled. It's called "New Britain" in the "Original Sacred Harp" (1971 ed.), and this tune is the one commonly sung. No composer is listed for the tune, and a note states that the song was published in "Olney's Selections" as "Faith's Review and Expectation."

The lyrics also appear with a tune by R. F. Mann from 1869, under the title "Jewett," with the chorus "Shout, shout for glory/Shout, shout aloud for glory/Brother, sister, mourner/All shout glory hallelujah." - PJS

John Newton, according to Johnson, lost his mother at age seven and soon found himself serving his father on shipboard. Taken into the navy, he deserted, was recaptured, and finally ended up serving on a slaver. Then he read _The Imitation of Christ_, and gave up his career, eventually becoming an Anglican clergyman.

His major relic is the texts he contributed to _Olney Hymns_; there are nearly 300 of them, of which this one is by far the most popular. Other Newton sons in the Index are "Greenfields (How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours)" and "Glorious Thing of Thee are Spoken." - RBW

Same tune



  1. Ritchie-Southern, p. 45, "Amazing Grace" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Lomax-FSUSA 96, "Amazing Grace" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 573-574, "Amazing Grace" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Darling-NAS, pp. 261-262, "Amazing Grace" (1 text)
  5. Silber-FSWB, p. 369, "Amazing Grace" (1 text)
  7. ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), pp. 48-49, "Amazing Grace" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Roud #5430
  9. BI, LxU096