This hymn has a very long and interesting history...
Most Famous Christian Song Written By Slave Trader
Lyrics speak of John Newton`s redemption and regret for his slave trade past; he allegedly heard the melody from the slaves.
Amazing Grace is perhaps the most famous Christian hymn, recognizable for its simple, yet
rememberable melody. The lyrics were translated into numerous world languages.
What is not well-known is that the author of the lyrics, Englishman John Newton, was actually a slave trader.
There are also accounts of the melody actually being of African origin and that Newton heard it from his ship when he was transporting slaves.
Newton was the captain of Greyhound, a ship which transported slave and he continued with this practice for some time even after his Christian enlightment, but only if he was convinced that the slaves which he sold were treated humanely. To what extent was Newton connected with slave trade is evident from his letters and travel logs for anyone who studies slave ownership of the 18th century.
Newton, who was not overly religious, became a Christian after a big storm which caught Greyhound on its voyage to England. Everything seemed lost the ship and its crew were surely destined for doom.
--Lord, have grace- Newton cried, as it is recorded in his travel log, and the storm suddenly blew over. Convinced how God wanted to show him path to redemption through the storm, Newton quit sailing with time and became a successful priest.
Weekly, a hymn
Amazing Grace was actually written in 1722 as one of the religious hymns he wrote weekly for his sermons.
The lyrics describe, according to many, Newton renouncing slave ownership and his remorse for all the harm he had done.
Even though Newton wrote the lyrics, melody called New Britain, which is inseparably connected with the song, actually does not have clear origins. The fact is that Amazing Grace2 was sung to different melodies in the beginning, and it appeared in today`s form only in 1829, in a hymnal called Columbian Harmony.
Melody without a homeland
The official, unchecked version is that the melody is of English or Irish origin and was written for bagpipes. The pentatonic scale suggests this, seeing how it is used in Celtic music.
But, the Celts were not the only ones who used the pentatonic scale. It is common with many people, from the ancient Greeks to Japan. From Celts to Africa.
US commentator and reporter Bill Moyers said that the melody really does originate from Africa and his statement was backed by Wintley Phipps, one of the leading US social and religious
The question if the melody if of Celtic or African origin will probably never be determined with certainty, so one of the greatest world composers, whether white or African-American, will always remain Anonymous.
The song lost its popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, and it was popular again during the 1960`s folk revival movement in the USA. Ever since then and up to now, Amazing Grace has remained one of the most popular songs of all time.
Cherokee tribe hymn
Amazing Grace experienced a completely unexpected incarnation with the Indian Cherokee tribe during their Trail of Tears. The Cherokee tribe was forced to move to reservations in 1838 and during this journey, about 10,000 people lost their lives due to hunger, disease and inhumane conditions. The tribe remembers this period as the Trail of Tears.
Due to a large number of deceased people or lack of time during their journey, they could not burry their dead with dignity, so the Cherokee tribe had to be satisfied with singing their version of Amazing Grace over the deceased.
Long after the Trail of Tears, the song remained popular with the tribe and today is considered to be the informal Cherokee hymn. It was sung by many Indian artists.
Amazing Grace performed by the Cherokee tribe members.
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