Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O LORD God!
(1 Chronicles 17:16-17 ESV)
Perhaps you’ll be surprised to learn that “Amazing Grace” is a New Year’s hymn. On Friday morning, January 1, 1773, John Newton, former slave trader and infidel, preached a New Year’s message from 1 Chronicles 17:16–17 in his church at Olney, England. Newton opened his sermon, saying, “The Lord bestows many blessings upon His people, but unless He likewise gives them a thankful heart, they lose much of the comfort they might have.” He told his church to look back at God’s goodness, look around at God’s promises, and look forward to future usefulness. In concluding, Newton introduced a poem he’d written for the occasion, the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.1
- Morgan, Robert J. (2010-10-01). Near to the Heart of God: Meditations on 366 Best-Loved Hymns (p. 5). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition. ↩