Some Best Loved Christian Music: Amazing Grace

Upon graduation from college my wife’s first job was working as a music therapist at a state hospital in Tennessee.  Along with the medications given to patients to help them to be as normal as possible, music that she would play for them also played a part in keeping them calm. 

The Power of Music

A study was made and found that just 15 minutes of listening to music could increase levels of immune chemicals, vital to protect against disease.  In addition another study reflects that music has a direct effect on the function of the brain.  It can slow down and equalize brain waves to create a meditative state...or it can energize brain waves quickening the thinking process and enhancing creativity. 

Why did the apostle Paul emphasize the importance of music in our lives?  Because psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs can change our lives and the lives of others around us.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.”

"Amazing Grace" is one of the most emotionally moving hymns that we sing.  I play two or three songs on the harmonica on Sunday afternoons for the Bible study group at the SWC Rendering Plant and I always end with amazing Grace.                                                 

John Newton, the author, was nurtured by a Christian mother who taught him the Bible at an early age, but he was raised in his father’s image after she died of tuberculosis when Newton was seven.  John developed “unsettled behavior and impatience of restraint,” a pattern that would persist for years.  He rebelled against the discipline of the Royal Navy and deserted.  He was caught, put in irons, and flogged.  He remained arrogant and insubordinate and had no morals.  “I sinned with a high hand,” he later wrote, “And I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.”  He wrote a letter in 1754 saying that before he had reached the age of twenty, he was never an hour in anyone’s company without attempting to corrupt their character. 

He said of himself, “My daily life was a course of the most terrible blasphemy and profaneness.  I don’t believe that I have ever since met so daring a blasphemer as myself.  Not content with common profanities and cursing, I daily invented new ones...”

There were several events in Newton’s life where he was close to death which alarmed him and led him to break off for a time from his sinful practices but soon relapsed into his former life-style.

In January of 1748 he was on a voyage to England.  On this trip he began to read Thomas Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ.  This book made a great impact on him.  As he read he began to think, “What if these things are true?”  But, soon banished these thoughts from his mind, closed the book, and joined in vain conversations with his companions.  That evening he was startled out of his sleep by a violent sea that soon filled his cabin with water.  A dreadful storm had overtaken them and for four weeks their disabled vessel was tossed and drifted at the mercy of the winds and waves.

During these weeks he thought upon his many sins, professions and relapses.  He first concluded that his sins were too many and great to be forgiven.  He had on board a New Testament and sermons by Bishop Beveridge.  One sermon on the Savior’s death affected him most.  He was also affected by reading about the conversion of the apostle Paul and the story of the prodigal son.  Before they reached their destination, Newton sincerely trusted his soul to Christ Jesus.  He now knew he was saved by the rich and sovereign grace of God.  He now understood the apostle Paul’s message when he said, “By grace you are saved through faith.”

Only God’s amazing grace could (and would) take a rude, profane sailor and transform him into a child of God.  Newton never ceased to stand in awe of God’s work in his life.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.”