John Newton - The Story Behind Amazing Grace: From Slave Captain To Humanitarian

By Kris Deichler, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

We have all come across dark times in our lives where, for whatever reason, we could not see a way out. I'm sure we have all done and said many things that, in hindsight, we wish we could change or take back because of those we hurt in the process. This is a story about how nothing in our past need define who we are as a person and that without exception, we always have a chance to turn things around; there is always hope and there is always a chance to forgive and to be forgiven.

You will likely have heard these words before:

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...

They are from the first verse of the song, Amazing Grace. Originally a Christian hymn published in 1779, it has long since outgrown its religious roots and spread into mainstream popular culture, now known and sung throughout the world. It became the anthem Native Americans of the Cherokee nation sang, on their 'Trail of Tears' in 1838-39. It has been sung on both sides during bloody wars and conflicts, and by civil rights protesters on their defiant marches during the 1960's. It was played during 'the death of Spock scene' in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and is often sung in auditions for the X-Factor or American Idol. It is today one of the most covered and performed songs in history; from Baptist choirs to Elvis Presley, Il Divo and Mumford & Sons.

It has evolved into a universal stirring anthem for redemption and forgiveness, and a song that inspires hope in the wake of tragedy. What you might not know is the incredible story behind its creator - a slave ship captain turned clergyman; the humanitarian, John Newton.

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