"Amazing Grace" is one of the most endearing hymns ever written, being sung and played all over the world. Its words were written in 1772 by an Englishman, John Newton. Newton’s early adult life had been shameful in the extreme. He became a trader in human misery - the commander of an English slave ship that transported large numbers of African slaves, the vast majority of whom were doomed to the harshest of lives (mainly in America). Newton’s life was permanently turned around however when God revealed to him the evilness of his trade. Out of Newton’s repentance were born the inspirational words of Amazing Grace. He became a minister of the Church and continued in this capacity for the remainder of his life.
The origin of the tune to which Amazing Grace is most commonly sung is not known, though it was the American composer William Walker who first put Newton's words together with the traditional folk hymn. Whilst very popular in America and across the World in many different arrangements, many would agree that Amazing Grace is especially poignant when played on the bagpipes. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards had a major hit with their bagpipe arrangement in 1972 and helped to cement an association between the hymn and Scotland. The following jazz-influenced guitar arrangement of Amazing Grace is by Glenn Jarrett. Some unexpected changes in meter accommodate extensions or alterations to the basic melody and give the piece a slightly offbeat feel. The overall mood is still reflective however in keeping with the original tune and words. The music is also available in printable PDF format for immediate download. There is also on mfiles a simple piano arrangement and one for piano and flute.
Albert Finney plays the part of John Newton in the film "Amazing Grace" which is about William Wilberforce's fight in the British parliament to abolish slavery. The film was scored by David Arnold but features Newton's song and lyrics in key places.