I am sure a celestial bell has rung in your heart when you read the title of this article. Such is the impact of the hymn ‘Amazing grace’ in the heart of everyone who has ever happened to give it an ear. The magical hymn praises the redeeming power of the grace of God. It is immensely soothing to the contrite heart once lost in sin and was redeemed. The man who wrote the graceful lines is John Newton.
Newton was born in London July 24, 1725, as the son of a merchant ship commander. At the age of eleven, John went to sea with his father. He made six voyages. He became so intoxicated with the voyages that, gradually Newton turned a reckless youth, and began to indulge in heavy drinking.
In 1744, Newton was impressed into the British navy. While there, he made an attempt to desert the navy, but was recaptured. He was punished with eight dozen lashes and was reduced to the rank of common seaman.
At last, he requested the authorities to be exchanged into service on a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. There Newton became the servant of a slave trader, who abused him brutally. In 1748, he was rescued by a sea captain, an acquaintance of Newton’s father. Finally, John Newton became captain of his own slave trading ship.
God in the storm
John Newton had scanty religious convictions. Moreover, his experiences in the navy and the ship had made him rude and crude. Once in his life, as he was on a voyage back home, his ship was caught in a violent storm. Newton, with all his might, attempted to steer the ship amidst the formidable storm. At that very moment he had an experience of God, which he later defined as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin, he reflected on what he had said. It was like a new light flowing into his heart. From that moment, he began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.
In happened on May 10, 1748. Newton cherished the ‘day’ all through his life as the day of his conversion, and he observed its anniversary ever after. Eventhough he continued the slave trade for some more time, he was a changed man, more human and compassionate. He treated the slaves under him humanely. In 1755, he became ill and left seafaring forever. Later, he learned Greek, Latin and Hebrew, and dedicated his time in learning the doctrines of faith.
Newton wished to become a minister, and placed an application. Although initially rejected, he was ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln and accepted the curacy of Olney, Buckinghamshire.
Newton preached with insight and spirit. His preaching soon became popular and the churches were overcrowded. During this time, he met the poet William Cowper, who was settled at Olney. Cowper’s influence triggered the lyrical passions in Newton.
It was during this time that Newton penned the all time classic hymn ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” Composed probably between 1760 and 1770 in Olney,”Amazing Grace” was possibly one of the hymns written for a weekly service. The melody of the hymn is said to be based on an early American folk melody. It is sometimes compared to the tune of a song the slaves sang.
In 1780, Newton moved to London to become the rector of St. Mary Woolnoth. During the last years of his life, he became blind. Nevertheless, he continued to preach until the last year of life. He died in London December 21, 1807.
മരിയന് ടൈംസില് പ്രസിദ്ധീകരിക്കുന്ന വാര്ത്തകളും ലേഖനങ്ങളും വീഡിയോകളും മരിയന് ടൈംസിന്റെ മൊബൈല് ആപ്പിലൂടെ നിങ്ങള്ക്ക് നേരിട്ട് ലഭിക്കും.