“Amazing Grace” is arguably the best-known Christian hymn. John Newton (1725-1807), a former British slave trader who became an Anglican clergyman and joined the campaign for abolition of the slave trade, wrote the hymn, most likely around Christmas of 1772. Its words express Newton’s personal journey from despair to peace and joy through the gift of grace. Newton believed that in the course of his life at sea and on the African coast he had been miraculously spared on many occasions from death and spiritual ruin. About 60 years ...