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Amazing grace

author of text

Amazing grace was first published in 1779 with words by the Englishman John Newton (1725-1807). His back story was a remarkable one: a pressed sailor in the Royal Navy, a deserter, and subsequently a sailor on board a slaver, his writing career began with the obscene poems he wrote about the captain for the crew to sing (the captain thought him the most profane man he had ever encountered). During a near encounter with death during a storm at sea, he uttered the words ‘Lord have mercy upon us’. Having survived, he underwent a conversion. He continued in the slave trade (about which he never changed his views) and eventually turned to a career on land. The Archbishop of York refused to ordain him, but the Bishop of Lincoln took an interest and Newton was appointed Curate of Olney, where he befriended the poet William Cowper. Together they started to write hymns, including Amazing grace, which they eventually published as Olney Hymns in 1779. Amazing grace remained an obscure hymn in England, but became popular in the United States during the Protestant revival of the early nineteenth century. It was sung to many different tunes until 1835, when it was set to the now familiar tune named ‘New Britain’.

from notes by Emma Cleobury © 2019


The music of King's
Studio Master: KGS0034-DDownload onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Track-specific metadata for KGS0034-D track 17

Recording date
24 April 2018
Recording venue
King's College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Benjamin Sheen
Recording engineer
Benjamin Sheen
Hyperion usage
  1. The music of King's (KGS0034-D)
    Disc 1 Track 17
    Release date: March 2019
    Download only
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