What are the lyrics to ‘Amazing Grace’, and what’s the story behind the traditional hymn?

13 April 2021, 16:58

A beloved hymn with a rich history – we reveal the lyrics and story behind ‘Amazing Grace’.

Amazing Grace’, first published in 1779, is a seemingly ageless Christian hymn. Its poignant text came to life seven years earlier, by the hand of English poet and clergyman John Newton.

The spiritual found popularity in the United States through Baptist and Methodist preachers, who often chose it to be performed at their services.

And years later, it would become well-known as the anthem of the civil rights movement – despite its author being a former slave trader.

Across two centuries, there have been more than 20 melodies associated with the beloved hymn, but the one most frequently sung today was penned by American composer William Walker, who set it to a melody known as ‘New Britain’.

It’s the simple yet powerful message of forgiveness, redemption and mercy from God, that has made ‘Amazing Grace’ one of the most versatile and enduring hymns in the world.

Read more: Yo-Yo Ma brings world to tears with poignant ‘Amazing Grace’ at inauguration >

The lyrics and history of the popular hymn 'Amazing Grace'
The lyrics and history of the popular hymn 'Amazing Grace'. Picture: Getty

What are the lyrics to ‘Amazing Grace’?

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I am 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

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come
'Twas grace has brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun

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