Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Lyrics to Amazing Grace

If you've ever been to a Baptist church service, you've no doubt noticed that Baptists always seem to skip the third verse of every hymn. I've even heard it said that we were saving them up so we'd have something to sing in Heaven, i.e. for eternity.

Anyway, I suppose it should be no surprise that older hymnals often list more verses for some songs than do newer ones. For example, I have an old hymnal that lists four verses for the Star Spangled Banner. Still, how many people know of even the second verse?

Similarly, Most people are familiar with the old hymn Amazing Grace by John Newton. It's a classic hymn written by a repentant slave trader. We've all sung it, for all our lives. In fact, even the oldest of our elders have been singing it all of their lives. So we should all know it well. Right?

How many verses do you think Amazing Grace has? Most hymnals today list four verses, but I do have a couple of older hymnals that still list five. Nonetheless, apparently we've been skipping verses for many more years than I thought, because even that isn't the whole song.

I just received a box of song books and sheet music. It contained many old hymnals, and some modern sheet music, a bunch of song books, arrangements for different instruments and groups, even old handwritten notes. As I was going through the contents, sorting it all out, I came across an old typewritten (as in typed on a manual typewriter with an ink ribbon and a bell for a carriage return) page listing all the verses of Amazing Grace.

There are thirteen verses listed on that old typewritten page. On the chance that someone might want them, and in the hope that some will actually read the whole story, I am posting them here. Enjoy.

UPDATE: I've heard from one person (Thanks Keith) who tells me the Methodist Hymnal lists 6 verses (which also tells me that I don't have a Methodist Hymnal yet, something I shall have to remedy). Then, after looking into it a bit further, it appears that John Newton only wrote 4 or 5 verses, depending on who you ask.

I've found a few citations that claim he wrote 5, but without stating which ones. The only documentation I've found which actually attributes specific verses is the Baptist Hymnal. It attributes verses 1 - 4 to John Newton (italicized below) and verse 5 to Anonymous (bold below).

The rest have been added by others over the years, a testament to the degree to which this song is beloved and to the depth at which it touches all who've experienced its subject. And in the end, that is what I find most important.

Amazing Grace
by John Newton
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.
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object met my sight,
And stopped my wild career.
I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood
Who fixed His languid eyes on me
As near the cross I stood.
Sure ne'er till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look
It seemed to change me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt
And plunged me in despair
I saw my sins His blood shed,
And helped to nail Him there.
Alas, I knew not what I did,
But all my tears were vain;
Where could my trembling soul be hid
For I the LORD had slain.
A second look He gave that said
"I freely all forgive!
This blood is for thy ransom paid
I died that thou mayest live."
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
'Tis grace hath bro't me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The LORD has promised good to me
His Word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
And when this flesh and heart shall fade
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The Earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forebear to shine;
But God who called me hear below
Shall be forever mine.
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.