How Can I Keep from Singing: Amazing Grace

An open right-hand side page of a book showing four stanzas of Hymn XL, then at page bottom "I. Chronicles. Hymn XLI. Faith's review and expectation. Chap. xvii. 16, 17.", followed by a stanza "Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) / That sav'd a wretch like me! / I once was lost, but now am found, / Was blind, but now I see."

John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace,” which was printed in the Olney hymnal (pictured above) in 1779.  It speaks of the hope that sinners, regardless of their sins, can be delivered to Eternal Life through the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Newton, himself, grew up with no religious training.  He entered into the Royal Navy and by all accounts was in constant trouble for insubordination.  He left the navy and became a slave trader, an unhappy and lonely individual.  During a horrible storm one night, Newton became so frightened that he called out to God for help.  That was the point of his conversion.  Eventually, he left the sailor’s life behind and began to study theology.  He became a poet and an ordained minister.

Newton wrote “Amazing Grace” from his own, intensely personal experience.  Considering that it’s estimated to be performed some ten million times a year, I think John Newton’s words speak to many Christians who know the depths of their own sin.  It was the first hymn I ever learned to play on the piano and it’s the first hymn to which I memorized all the words.  I especially love the last verse:

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 first begun.

Oh, to sing God’s praises eternally.  I cannot wait until that’s all I have to do.

I married into Scottish heritage and I love to hear “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes.  I hope you enjoy it as well.


“Amazing Grace” (Royal Scots Dragoon Guards)

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10 thoughts on “How Can I Keep from Singing: Amazing Grace

  1. This song is amazing. Every time I hear it, I think of my Aunt Shirley. It was one of her favorites. I remember going to see her one day near the end. She had it playing on a loop, to weak to speak to me, but listening over and over while she waited to look Jesus in the face. I really believe she would have loved Chris Tomlin’s version, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me…”

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