Hymn Study for Homeschoolers is a new series being published weekdays from October 15-26. It’s a simple guide to hymn study that includes free printable notebooking and copywork pages for ten well-loved hymns.
John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” was born July 24, 1725, in London, England. His mother died when he was only six years old. At age eleven, John left school and joined his father’s ship, leading a rough sailor’s life.
As a young adult, Newton became the captain of his own slave ship. On March 10, 1748, his ship encountered a severe storm on the return trip from Africa to England. Newton began to read Imitation of Christ during the stormy voyage. The storm and the spiritual book were used by the Holy Spirit to bring John Newton to Christ.
For six years after becoming a Christian, Newton continued to work as a slave ship captain. He tried to justify himself by improving conditions for slaves on his ship and by holding worship services for his crew. Finally Newton realized he had to separate himself from the slave trade. He eventually became a crusader against slavery.
Newton was ordained by the Anglican Church in 1764. He began his first pastorate in the village of Olney, near Cambridge, England.
Newton loved to sing hymns in church rather than the Psalms typically sung in Anglican churches. When he couldn’t find many hymns to sing, he began writing his own. In 1779 John Newton and William Cowper produced the Olney Hymns hymnal. Of the hymnal’s 349 hymns, sixty-seven were written by Cowper, and the rest by Newton.
The tune “Amazing Grace” is an early American folk melody, first known as the plantation melody “Loving Lambs.” Its earliest known publication was in The Virginia Harmony compiled by James P.Carrell and David S. Clayton in 1831.
(Last stanza by an unknown author)
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.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
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’d first begun.
You can also download sheet music for Amazing Grace.
Listen to the Hymn
A cappella rendition by Antrim Mennonite Choir
You’re welcome to download this free set of notebooking and copywork pages to use in your hymn study.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
“… one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” – John 9:25
Sources: The Cyber Hymnal, 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring True Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns