Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

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Amazing Grace is the customary title of one of the best-known hymns, written (as usually sung, all but the last stanza) by John Newton, who originally entitled it Faith's Review and Expectation when he published it in his Olney Hymns in 1779. Its customary tune is New Britain. The stanza beginning "When we've been there ten thousand years", often sung as the last stanza of "Amazing Grace", is not part of the hymn as written by John Newton, but is by an unknown poet, published as early as 1829.

Sheet Music

Using tune New Britain, with parts by Edwin Othello Excell (1851–1921), 1900

Arrangement for Violin, Flute, Oboe and Clarinet ensemble, by J.A. Streich


As a common-meter lyric (8 6 8 6, Amazing Grace can be sung to literally thousands of extant tunes. While for over a century New Britain has been overwhelmingly the most popular choice, inextricably linked with the hymn in the minds of John Doe and Jane Q. Public, it is not the only tune to which the text has been sung.

It can be an interesting and amusing exercise—and with discipline, a worshipful one—to try singing a text as well known as this to an unexpected (yet 8 6 8 6) tune. For example, Amazing Grace can be sung well to "House of the Rising Sun" as well as to the theme song of the TV show Gilligan's Island.


Lyrics from A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1841

Hymn 118
1. 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.

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

3. Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

4. The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

5. 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.

6. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below
Will be forever mine.

Common Last Verse (as seen in American Notes and Queries, Volume 5, 1890, p. 188)

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Then when we first begun.

External Lyrics