The now familiar and traditional melody of the hymn was not composed by Newton, and the words were sung to a number of tunes before the now inseparable melody was chanced upon. They first appear united in a shape note hymnal from 1831 called Virginia Harmony, where the tune is called "New Britain." Any original words sung to the tune are now lost. The melody is believed to be Scottish or Irish in origin; it is pentatonic and suggests a bagpipe tune; the hymn is frequently performed on bagpipes and has become associated with that instrument.
- Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
- That sav'd 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 reliev'd;
- How precious did that grace appear,
- The hour I first believ'd!
- Thro' many dangers, toils and snares,
- I have already come;
- 'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
- And grace will lead me home.
- The Lord has promis'd good to me,
- His word my hope secures;
- He will my shield and portion be,
- As long as life endures.
- Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
- And mortal life shall cease;
- I shall possess, within the veil,
- A life of joy and peace.
- The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
- The sun forbear to shine;
- But God, who call'd me here below,
- Will be forever mine.
Some versions of the hymn include an additional verse:
- When we've been there ten thousand years,
- Bright shining as the sun,
- We've no less days to sing God's praise
- Than when we'd first begun.
This verse is not by Newton. It was originally from a hymn called "Jerusalem, My Happy Home." It was added to a version of "Amazing Grace" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, as it appears in her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Uncle Tom has pieced the lyrics of several hymns together; those who learned the lyrics from the novel have assumed that it belongs.
See also Sacred Harp
- Download recording “Amazing Grace” a common meter hymn from the Library of Congress' John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip; performed by Mr. and Mrs. N.V. Braley on May 5, 1939 at the home of Beal D. Taylor near Medina, Texas