The lyrics to the song that would become "Amazing Grace" first appear alongside a sermon by John Newton. No one knows if that New Year's Day performance had accompanying music or not.
Newton wrote "Amazing Grace" based on his own experience. He was not a religious man from the start. After serving in Britain's Royal Navy, he got into the slave trade. During a bout of bad weather his ship tossed and turned so strongly that he cried out to God for mercy. That moment may have marked the beginning of his religious conversion. When he quit the slave trade in 1755, he began studying theology.
"Amazing Grace" has been set to many pieces of music over the years. It is most commonly heard today with a tune called "New Britain." The song is one of the most recognizable in the world to anyone who speaks English.
Frequently used at funerals, the song famously appears at the end of 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for Spock's funeral.
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