“Let us pray by singing the first verse of a familiar hymn: Amazing Grace:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
t’was blind but now I see.
These words are from what is perhaps the most well-known and beloved English-language hymn, written by an Episcopal priest named John Newton in 1773 as an illustration for a sermon. Some twenty-five years earlier, Newton was involved in the slave trade and renowned for his abrasive and stubborn character. One biography states, “he (Newton) used the worst words the captain of the ship ever heard, creating new ones to exceed the limit of verbal debauchery.” In 1748 during a violent storm off the coast of Ireland, the ship Newton was on was pounded by swells and crashing waves. At a point of desperation, he cried out, “God have mercy on me!”” For the rest of the sermon in its entirety, please click here.