My Journey With Nature

My song this morning is “Amazing Grace” by John Newton. As many of you may know I always have a morning song in my head when I start the day. My favorite version of this song is below by Judy Collins.


However, until very recently I was not aware of the history behind the hymn and its author. It has quite a story in itself. It is one of the most beloved hymns of the last two centuries and is played and performed millions of times every year The words were written in 1772 by John Newton and were put to music by William Walker in 1835, (the tune “New Britain” was popular at that time).

This stirring song was written by a former enslaver, John Newton. It was not until 1788, 34 years after leaving it that he renounced his former slaving profession by publishing a blazing pamphlet called “Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade.” The tract described the horrific conditions on the ships and Newton apologized for making a public statement so many years after participating in the trade: “It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.” The pamphlet was so popular it was reprinted several times and sent to every member of Parliament. Under the leadership of MP William Wilberforce, the English civil government outlawed slavery in Great Britain in 1807 and Newton lived to see it, dying in December of that year.

David Sheward.

Original Lyrics to Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)

That sav’d a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears reliev’d;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils, and snares,

I have already come;

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,

His word my hope secures;

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease;

I shall possess, within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who call’d me here below,

Will be forever mine.

John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779

My parents passed away when I was in high school. I lived in South Miami at the time and made plans to attend and was accepted by the University of Miami. I was going to become a Marine Biologist. At this time I was most fortunate to have my brothers and sister’s support. As I have mentioned before I was number six out of seven children. In fact, we all supported one another.

I was also truly blessed to be taken in by the attorney that settled my mother’s estate and his wife. They became my parents. I could not have been more fortunate or blessed for them to have me be a part of their family.

As I have written before I am half Scottish. A Malcolm on my mother’s side. George was Scottish as well and he played the bagpipes in a local pipe band. He would often practice playing the pipes in the backyard. My favorite song he would play was “Amazing Grace.”

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