This hymn was written by John Newton (1725-1807), and was first published in a collection of Newton’s hymns called Olney Hymns. Although it was almost completely forgotten in the United Kingdom, it became immensely popular in the USA where it was sung to an American folk melody. This melody, known as AMAZING GRACE, is the tune associated with the hymn today, although it has many subtle variations from place to place and hymnal and hymnal.
This is hymn is recognised all over the world and exists in many versions as each individual or group makes their own arrangement if the hymns moving words and tune.
Newton followed his father into the shipping trade, and he became involved in slavery and was master of several slave ships. Later on in his life, however, Newton became a vehement opponent of the slave trade. He became an active supporter of abolitionist activities, and greatly encouraged and influenced William Wilberforce.
by Joseph Collyer the Younger, after John Russell
line engraving, published 1 January 1808 (1788)
© National Portrait Gallery
NPG D 5353
used under the following licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/