Amazing Grace: John Newton was born in London on July 24th, 1725. His father was the commander of a merchant ship and as a boy John went to sea with him often. By the age of nineteen he had joined the navy but in the course of time he left and went on to captain his own ship, which he then plied exclusively in the slave trade.

On May 10th, 1748, whilst on a return journey from Africa with his ship fully laden with hundreds of slaves, Newton almost lost everything, including his own life. His ship was caught up in a violent storm and in a desperate bid to save himself, his ship, his cargo and his crew, Newton cried out to God to have mercy on him. His prayers were answered and the storm miraculously broke. Everything was saved and the events of that day changed John Newton’s life forever.

As a direct result of this experience, Newton gave up his life as a slave-trader and, instead, he dedicated his life to serving God. He went on to become a Christian minister in England and he also became very close friends with John Wesley (founder of the Methodist church) and also William Wilberforce, the man who went on to lead the campaign for the abolition of slavery.

John Newton, the once notorious slave trader turned Christian minister, wrote many wonderful hymns. By far the most famous of which, is this one:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved 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 relieved.

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come.

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining like the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,

Than when we first begun.