Amazing Grace: Introduction

mercy indeed

Oh, it was mercy indeed to save a wretch like me!

John Newton wrote these words in his journal on 21 March 1796 (at the age of 70), 48 years after his conversion.

He had never forgotten that “great turning day” in 1748 when, as an obstreperous, rebellious young man, he was surprised to hear himself crying out during a violent storm at sea, “The Lord have mercy on us!”

For it was on that day he discovered, “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”

Every year that followed, he kept  21 March apart as a day of remembrance, for thanksgiving, fasting and prayer.

Amazing Grace sermon

The words of Amazing Grace were etched on Newton's heart daily. 
But we assume that he first wrote this hymn for his New Year’s Morning sermon of
1 January 1773,
for it fits his sermon notes so closely and the text  he chose to write above it
in the Olney Hymns, 1 Chronicles 17:16,17,
is identical to the sermon’s text.

John Newton’s sermon notebook, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 2940
Amazing Grace written for 1773
published in Olney Hymns 1779

Links for more:

The Scripture Texts 
The Sermon Notes 
The Hymn
The Tune (more later)

The vicarage in Olney

where John Newton wrote Amazing Grace in his attic study,
for his sermon on 1 Chronicles 17:16,17
for New Year's Day, Friday 1 January 1773

Amazing Grace 240th anniversary (2013) from
The John Newton Project on Vimeo.


Marylynn Rouse, 23/01/2014