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Amazing Grace
November 3, 2021, 2:16 PM

Amazing Grace has always been one of my favorite hymns. John Newton, a slave trader who turned Anglican clergyman, is credited as the song's author. As a young man, Newton served in the Royal Navy. Afterward, he became a slave trader. During a violent storm in 1748 that threatened his life, he underwent a spiritual conversion but continued in the slave trade for seven more years before becoming a Christian theologist. Although popular on and off throughout history, Amazing Grace became a popular song in both Folk music and Black Spiritual Music, especially during the 1960s (from Wikipedia).

My son Brian and I were actively involved in PromiseKeepers from 1994-1997. We attended every event they sponsored that we could get to in the Washington, DC area, and Dallas, including the Sacred Assembly of Men at the National Mall (first Million Man march) in Washington D.C. Whitney Phipps (singer, songwriter, record producer, and minister), introduced us to Amazing Grace in a new way. He described Captain John Newton writing his song on his slave trade ship shortly after leaving Victoria Island in Nigeria with a new load of slaves headed for the New World.

The inspired words came to him easily, and the tune came from the slaves below singing a song of lament for having been removed from their tribes, their loved ones, and the life they knew. Whitney Phipps hummed the tune first, with lots of stops filled with moans of agony from the slaves’ hurting hearts. Then he sang Amazing Grace as a slave. It was so heart- wrenching and moving for all 80,000 men in that football arena! It so moved my son and me. My heart ached for the suffering of the uprooted slaves en route to a new life of service in an unknown world.

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed

My chains are gone, I've been set free My God, my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood, His mercy rains Unending love, Amazing grace

I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind (was blind), but now (but now) I see

“All Saints Day” is November 1st and “All Souls Day” is November 2nd. “All Saints Day” is set aside for solemn remembrance, in honor of all the saints of the church, known and unknown. “All Souls Day” is a commemoration of the souls of the faithful Christians who have died.

The Apostle Paul said, “I am chief of sinners... but he never strayed from the heart of the gospel—“God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). I believe John Newton, as he wrote Amazing Grace, felt very much like Paul.

Wishing you all a wonderfully blessed November!

Rev. Robert Blake
Associate Minister
Central Christian Church