Amazing Grace

The words to "Amazing Grace" were written in the 18th century by John Newton. He was born in London and after a life, which included being press-ganged into the navy, flogged and becoming a skipper of a boat plying the slave trade, was converted to religion and became a minister. The now familiar and traditional melody of the hymn was not composed by Newton, and the words were sung to a number of tunes before the now inseparable melody was chanced upon. They first appear united in a hymnal from 1831 called "Virginia Harmony," where the tune is called "New Britain." The melody is believed to be Scottish or Irish in origin; it is pentatonic and suggests a bagpipe tune.