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Introduction of the most popular Christian/Gospel songs of all time

John Newton (1725–1807) was the captain of a slave-merchant ship. On May 10, 1748, on his return home, he experienced a “mighty deliverance” in connection with a great storm. In his diary, he wrote that his ship was on the verge of sinking when he shouted, "Sir, have mercy on us!" He converted, yet continued the slave trade. At the same time, he demanded the humane treatment of the slaves he transported.

Newton wrote "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds!" while waiting for a cargo slave in an African port. He later turned his back on his merchant craft, became a priest, and joined William Wilberforce in his struggle for the abolition of slavery.

The music of the song, known today and considered traditional, was not composed by Newton, the lyrics were sung to several different melodies before the melody, which is now inseparable from it, was connected.

There are two different melodies to the lyrics. “New Britain” first appeared in 1831 in the Virginia Harmonies songbook. The original lyrics sung to the tune are now lost. The music is presumably of Irish or Scottish origin; uses the pentatonic scale and suggests Scottish bagpipes as an instrument; the vocals are performed frequently in Scottish bagpipes and are associated with the instrument. The other tune is the so-called “old usual Baptist” tune. He was sung by the Church of Little Zion Church in Jeff, Kentucky, on the 1958 Folkways label The Ritchie Family of Kentucky.

Newton’s lyrics have become favorites of all Christian denominations, primarily because the song vividly and concisely sums up the Christian doctrine of divine grace. The text is based on 1 Chronicles 17.16, where King David marvels that the Lord chose him and his house. (Newton described the play as “an overview and expectation of Fate.”)

Proponents of freedom and human rights have also received a friendly welcome, in both Christian and non-Christian circles, as many believe the song speaks against slavery because Newton was once a slave trader. The song was sung by many notable music performers, such as human rights activist and folk singer icon Joan Baez.

Church singing was quite popular with both sides fighting in the American Civil War. On the path of tears, the Cherokee Indians were not always able to offer a full funeral to their dead. Instead, they had to catch up with the singing of “Amazing Grace.” Since then, “Amazing Grace” has often been considered the national anthem of Cherokee. That’s why many contemporary Indian musicians recorded the song.

In recent years, the song has become popular among groups recovering from drug and alcohol disease, especially Christians. However, instead of the usual funeral songs, they are usually sung to celebrate those who have been lost but have been.

Melody and Piano Music Notes

The melody known today worldwide, the so-called New Britain, first appeared in a hymn book from 1831, the Virginia Harmony. It is pentatonic and is said to go back to US or British roots, but is also attributed to James P. Carrell and David S. Clayton. The original text originally sung to the melody is lost today. The text usually sung by John Newton today is occasionally sung with another melody, the Old Regular Baptist, created in Kentucky in 1958. Here you can find all piano sheet music of 'Amazing Grace'.

The aftermath is particularly significant in the harmonization offered by the Southern Harmony hymnal of 1835. The characteristic setting for this hymn book, in which the main melody is in the middle part and is accompanied by a lower and lower sung voice, can still be found in American music for vocal trios and has become particularly well known for the style of Andrews Sisters.

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