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Amazing Grace: Songs of Revival


We are all very familiar with the song Amazing Grace. Even those who don’t profess to be Christians will stop to listen if the song is being sung, and almost everyone knows the words to the iconic first verse. But fewer know the bloody but beautiful story behind the hymn or the role it played in the Second Great Awakening.

This song was written by John Newton in 1772. Newton spent a short time in England’s Royal Navy, but left disgraced and directly entered the world of slave trading. Caught up in the money it provided, he transported people from their homeland to England. However, one travel found his ship in the midst of a terrible storm where he realized that it would only be by the grace of God that he would survive. It was then he answered the call of the Holy Spirit on his life, and gave himself to Christ. While he did not immediately quit the slave trade, a few years later found him rejecting that life style and pursuing the ministry. He later published a tract, Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade, which did much to open the eyes of the public to the horrors of slavery. Newton’s life and story were also fundamental in William Wilberforce’s fight to abolish slavery in England.

The Second Great Awakening lasted from 1795-1835 and spanned multiple states across the U.S. It was during that time that “camp” or “tent” meetings were first pioneered, and small towns and great cities alike had people gathering to pray. This was a time of great spiritual revival in our country and a song that the people kept returning to was Newton’s “Amazing Grace.” Perhaps it was because it was written in the deep shame of recognized sin, or perhaps it was because the words, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me,” resonate with every Christian, but either way, it is a song that has carried the anointing of the Holy Spirit with it for hundreds of years.



Men and Women of Faith: Thomas Jefferson


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