John Newton: Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

Ron Geschwendt

READ : John 3:16-21

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (v. 21 NIV)

Singing identifies a Christian, for Christ sets the sinner free to sing with joy and gratitude. John Newton (1725-1807) taught the world its favorite hymn. But there was a time when Newton had no song himself. He had a troubled childhood and eventually ended up in West Africa. There Newton’s life turned sour and for two years he lived in poverty while working in the slave trade.

A storm in the North Atlantic precipitated a crisis in his life. He sought God, and was converted to Christ. Although a new Christian, he did not give up slave trading and the sea immediately. But God’s grace effectively changed not only his heart, but his life, and Newton eventually became a pastor and hymn writer in England. People everywhere sing John Newton’s (and the world’s) most famous hymn:

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see. . . .

In later years Newton aided the political campaign of William Wilberforce, which ultimately led to the abolition of slavery. The amazing grace of God will profoundly change anyone.


Sovereign God, thank you for your amazing grace. Let it transform my whole life and cause me to sing your praises.