Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound, That Saved a Wretch Like Me

August 14, 2023

Here is a trivia question for you? Of all the songs ever written, which song has been recorded most – by the largest number of different vocal artists? The answer is “Amazing Grace”. The classic Christian hymn was written in 1779 by John Newton, as a testimony of the grace of God in his life. Before his conversion John Newton had lived a wicked and sinful life. Among his many sins he had captained a slave ship and had brought slaves from Africa to the United States. After his Conversion to Christ he became an Anglican minister.

The original title of the song was not “Amazing Grace” but was “Faiths Review and Expectation”. The title was later changed to the one we are familiar with. The melody that was added to John Newton’s poem was a familiar folk song of the day called “Virginia Harmony”

My daughter was finishing her college studies to learn Mandarin in Nanjing, China. Her roommate, Pria, was a sweet young lady who loved karaoke. To celebrate Pria’s birthday, we rented a Karaoke room. One of the first songs she wanted to sing was “Amazing Grace.” She wasn’t Christian and hardly knew anything about Christianity, but she loved the words and the melody, and said she sang it all the time. It opened the doors for me to answer her questions about Christianity, and teach her a little about grace.

The apostle Paul knew about grace full well. He wrote in I Timothy 1:13-14, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

What Is Grace? I have found that Grace is much easier to illustrate than it is to define. It would take volumes to do the definition justice but here are some common definitions. Using an acrostic, Grace is Gods Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is God’s love taking the initiative to meet man’s need, whatever that need may be. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Grace goes beyond mercy. Mercy is the Governor giving a guilty man a pardon. Grace is the Governor giving the man a pardon and then taking him home to live with him.

John Newton’s conversion story is a great miracle of God. It seems that he and his ship “The Greyhound” were overwhelmed by a fierce storm. Newton awoke in his cabin to find it filled with water. What followed was a 9-hour nightmare where he and his shipmates struggled to keep the ship from falling apart and manned the water pumps. Clothes and bedding were stuffed into holes and boards nailed over them. At one point, Newton was lashed to the wheel of the ship to help steer it. It was bitterly cold as the storm seemed to rage on and on.

During a short period of time when he was relieved to go below, he found a Bible and began to read it. He recalled “I concluded my sins were too great to be forgiven. I waited with fear and impatience to receive my doom.” But when he heard the news that the ship had survived the storm he wrote, “I began to pray, to think of that Jesus that I had so often derided. I recollected his death, a death for sins not his own, but, as I remembered, for the sake of those who should put their trust in him.”

Somebody had thought to talk to him about Jesus even when they faced ridicule and insults to do so. Somebody had thought to have a Bible close at hand that he could read so that when John Newton’s world was shaken by tragedy he had a chance to read the word of God. All it will take to change the life of a sinful person is for the right Christian to be available when life shakes up their world. All it will take is for the right Christian to be in prayer for them. All it takes is for someone like you to be available for God to use to share God’s Amazing Grace.

Write down the name of at least one person you know who does not have faith in Jesus Christ. If you can think of more names, write them down too. Start praying that God will open the doors for them to hear about Christ’s Amazing Grace, and be open to the possibility that God may open the doors for you to share His Amazing Grace. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see,