Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
2 Reviews

Behind our most beloved hymn is a fascinating story spanning continents, cultures, and centuries. Inspired by the way "Amazing Grace" continues to change and grow in popularity, acclaimed music writer Steve Turner embarks on a journey to trace the life of the hymn, from Olney, England, where it was written by former slave trader John Newton, to tiny Plantain Island off the coast of Africa, where Newton was held captive for almost a year, to the Kentucky-Tennessee border and other parts of the South, where the hymn first began to spread.

Newton had been rescued from Africa by a merchant ship when, during an eleven-hour storm on the Atlantic, he converted to Christianity. Years later, as a minister, he wrote the hymn for use among his congregation. Through the nineteenth century, "Amazing Grace" appeared in more and more hymn books, and in the twentieth century it rose to a gospel and folk standard before exploding into pop music. It has been recorded by artists as varied as Elvis Presley, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Tiny Tim, Al Green, Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart, Chet Baker, and Destiny's Child. Amazing Grace closely examines this modern history of the hymn through personal interviews with recording artists.

From John Newton's incredible life story to the hymn's role in American spirituality and culture, Amazing Grace is an illuminating, thorough, and unprecedented musical history.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - auntieknickers - LibraryThing

I had originally marked this book as read, but realizing from the placement of a bookmark that I hadn't finished it, I started over. It was well worth reading. For some people this might be more than ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - auntieknickers - LibraryThing

For some people this might be more than they ever wanted to know about "Amazing Grace." About half of the book is a mini-biography of John Newton, who wrote the lyric, with digressions about William ... Read full review

Contents

PressGanged
3
Meeting the Music
113
Spread by Revival
131
The Gospel Sound 147
147
In the Folk Tradition
161
APPENDICES
227
Copyright

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Popular passages

Page 74 - God;) being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood...
Page 69 - We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings.
Page 40 - All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
Page 64 - And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Page 109 - He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Page 73 - Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Page 69 - The condition of man, after the fall of Adam, is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God : wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
Page 59 - I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that with the loathsomeness of the stench and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything.
Page 150 - 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.
Page 6 - The word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

References to this book

About the author (2009)

Steve Turner is the author of Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles' Song, Hungry for Heaven: Rock and Roll and the Search for Redemption, Jack Kerouac: Angelheaded Hipster, and Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now. His articles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Mojo, Q, and the London Times. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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