Chances are, you have heard these lyrics many times. These are the words from “Amazing Grace,” one of the greatest songs of all time.
What you may not realize is that these words were penned by a repentant slave trader.
John Newton’s life changed forever during a storm at sea in 1748. He had been reading “The Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas a Kempis, and pondering the mess his life had become. The storm lasted for several days, and in the midst of the turmoil, Newton called out to God.
His life changed after that storm, but it took time for Newton to turn away from his slave-trading ways. Slowly he changed, and he went on to write a pamphlet that had a tremendous impact on William Wilberforce, the man who led the effort to abolish slavery in most of the British empire. Newton wrote the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” in late 1772.
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By Doug Peterson
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