What is perhaps the most famous hymn ever composed, “Amazing Grace” was first written and published in 1779 by John Newton, an outspoken abolitionist and clergyman, whose conversion experience to Christianity as a former slave trader was like none other.
After years of sailing across the North Atlantic trading slaves, Newton had what he recalls as a divine encounter with God, when one of his ships capsized at sea, causing his crew and slaves to land on a deserted island in Ireland. For several weeks they nearly starved to death, which lead Newton to seek out the wisdom and grace of God concerning his predicament, as well as his role as a slave trader.
That experience led Newton years later to write the following words in a hymn:
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.
The first line of this treasured hymn, one that has been recorded over 6,000 times, ends with a phrase that has incredible implications concerning our daily walk and faith in God.
…how sweet the sound…
Did you know that grace has a sound?
Mentioned in the Bible over 150 times, grace is defined as the unconditional love and unmerited favor of God. However, it is interesting that when mentioned, it usually describes something that people have seen, felt, or even tasted. But there is one time when the grace of God is shown to have a sound:
“But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace.”
The Apostle Paul, who like Newton, also had a nasty history of unjustly persecuting others, writes here in Galatians 1:15 that it was grace that called out to him and gave his life a brand new purpose. This grace is not just heard when we are at our lowest, but it is in fact the soundtrack of our daily lives.
It was the sound of grace your office chair made last week as you sat in it, at the same workplace several people were laid off from last year. It was the sound of grace your keys made yesterday evening, as you locked the door to a home several years ago you were not even sure you could afford.
Perhaps for Newtown, the sound of grace was actually the silence of chains, the ones that used to rattle in the middle of the night at the belly of his ship.
No matter the situation, there is a symphony of love and salvation that surrounds us all when we dare to keep our ears bent towards a faithful God. The sound of such grace is sweet indeed.