Welcome to my first blog on music monday.
Yesterday my family and I attended church to celebrate New Year’s Day 2017.
The opening song was”Amazing Grace,” I’ve sung this song many times over the years. In church as a child we sang it quite often, in addition I have sung it many times at funerals.
For some reason though yesterday when I sung “Amazing Grace” it really hit home for me. I had been struggling this christmas over the loss of my father and nephew. Its been three years since my dad passed away and two years that my beloved nephew was taken from us. I was late to decorate the tree and feelings of loss were dug up. I had a wonderful Christmas with my family but this year I really felt the loss of family. While I was singing Amazing Grace one of my favorite oldies I started to think about what those words really meant “My chains are gone.” For a moment I almost caught a glimpse of my Dad in heaven, A dad who was happy. I then thought about all the family I loved who were there with him. My nephew, My father in law I never met and my dear mother in law. I realized how life can put chains around us. I thought about the faith and hope that I carry in my heart that next time I see these people I will meet them and there will be no chains. No anxieties, no aches, no pain, no more hurt or heartache. All chains will have been removed, I even thought about the chains that sometimes I carry. Chills ran down my spine as I felt how wonderful that must be. I felt a weight lifted or a chain broken as I let the pain of losing my father go. I was so struck by this song that I shared with my husband how I felt about the song. On our walk last evening we started chatting about the real history behind the song. We both had some ideas of where the song started as we both grew up in the church but neither of us was 100% sure. I did a little information gathering and here is what I found.
John Newton was born in 1725 in London England to a puritan Mother who died just a few weeks before his seventh birthday. His father was a stern sea captain who took him out to sea at age 11. In his younger years he turned to drinking and partying. He then joined the British Navy. While serving in the Navy he tried to desert his troops and was given lashes as punishment and reduced to the rank of common seaman. After leaving the British Navy he joined the Atlantic slave trade. One night while sailing off the coast of Donegal Ireland. The boast upon which Newton was upon hit a mighty and terrible storm. Newton cried out to God in desperation asking him to save him. Miraculously the boat never sank and Newton’s boat was carried to safety. This started a conversion in his life but his transformation was gradual. In 1764 Newton was ordained as a curate or parish priest in Buckinghamshire. It was there he started to write hymns with William Cowper, the Song “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Years Day 1773. The words which depict a man with a past full of turmoil who experienced the grace of God has been sung to many tunes over the years but in 1935 it was set to the tune of “New Briton” which is most recognizable today. Over the centuries this song has become a beloved spiritual for a many.While the chains may have originally depicted the slave trade the chain for many represent many things. We each can ask ourselves what chains we carry.Do we carry chains of pain, loss, mental illness, physical illness or depression. Like Newton do we believe in divine grace and its power to heal and lift us out. I want to live in the hope and faith of amazing grace in my own life.
As we start off a fresh year in 2017 may I challenge you to ask yourself what chains you carry around ? I pray you find the grace to lose those chains and may 2017 be a year of God’s “Amazing Grace.” in your life.
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