Several years ago my mom bought me a book entitled "101 Hymn Stories". When I was little my family went to a Baptist church and I always loved the hymns: Trust and Obey, I Surrender All, It is well with my soul etc... They always evoked such emotion in me mainly because every week our pastor would talk a little bit about the author of the hymn. It definitely made the words come alive and mean more when you found out what the person had gone through to write such a beautiful song.
I was reading this book and came upon the author of "Amazing Grace", John Newton. His story IS amazing. In his early years he was the captain of a slave ship! He accepted Christ while returning to England from Africa. The voyage was extremely stormy and they thought they were all going to die. He picked up a copy of Thomas A. Kempis's book, Imitation of Christ and the combination of fear from the storm and the message of the book convicted his heart and he eventually gave it over to the Lord. He stayed the captain for several more years and tried to improve conditions and even held worship services, but overtime felt so convicted that he eventually became a strong crusader against the inhumanity of slavery. He went on to preach the gospel and used his past as a sounding board to show God's incredible mercy and grace.
"Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)"
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm 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
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine
Have a blessed day!
(Song adapted from original by Chris Tomlin)
Photo Credit: Langdon
101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck