The song, “Amazing Grace”, has been sung throughout the ages since it was written by John Newton in 1779. Some facts that you may not know about Newton’s famous hymn are:
“The original title was ‘Faith’s Review and Expectation’, not ‘Amazing Grace’.
The song was written in 1779 based on Newton’s study of I Chronicles 17:16-17.
A nearly forgotten verse that Newton added near the end of ‘Amazing Grace’ were the words: ‘The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine; But God, Who called me here below, shall be forever mine.'”
This past weekend we attended a memorial service for my sister’s son who died at the age of 41. My husband, a licensed minister, talked about his life and asked those present to remember all the good things that came from his life. He was also a son, brother, husband, father (two daughters), and a friend to so many. I was asked if I could share in song and “Amazing Grace” was the first one that came to mind. I sang it at the last memorial service that we attended and the song is one that everyone can relate to.
So what exactly is grace? According to the Oxford Dictionary…
“Grace is (1) simple elegance or refinement of movement; and (2) (In Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”
There are several scriptures mentioning grace as follows:
II Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Ephesians 4:7: “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
In reading these passages, we realize that grace is a gift from God because He “apportioned it” to each and every one of us.
At the beginning of “Amazing Grace”, Newton also mentions another word: wretch. He said…”Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” In what connotation then is the word wretch used? The Oxford Dictionary describes a wretch as follows:
“A wretch is…Old English wrecca (also in the sense of ‘banished person’) of West Germanic origin, related to German Recke ‘warrior, hero’, also to the verb wreak.”
Because of the ‘dangers, toils, and snares’ that Newton found his life following, he recognized that he needed someone other than himself to lift him from his sinful life (a wretch) that he had been following and asked God to deliver him, according to a summary of Newton’s life written by Robert J. Morgan.
Without the help of God, it is easy to get caught up in the “things of the world” and the “temptations” like my sister’s son. His life ended tragically, but now he is in the arms of God.
May we always remember God’s grace in our lives. It is a gift to all of us and a reassurance of God’s love.