A hymn to sing along with…
The first two verses were written by Revd John Newton (1725-1807) – the last verse is a recent addition. John Newton was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumultuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape he himself became the captain of a slave ship.
However, following a near-drowning, and influenced by the piety of his future wife he gave up the slave trade in 1754 and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1764 and wrote a number of hymns, including Glorious things of Thee are spoken, How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, Great Shepherd of thy people and Amazing Grace (the tune usually associated with this last was not published until after 1830 – so he is not to blame for it!).
The tune “Gott des Himmels” was originally written by Heinrich Albert (1604-1651) sometime organist of Konigsberg Cathedral. The tune was adapted (ie simplified) by Charles Steggall (1826-1905), a Londoner who composed several hymn tunes still familiar today. In the arrangement here, the first verse is accompanied by Steggall’s version, while the last two verses are provided with the original melody and a harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach.
May the grace of Christ our Saviour,
And the father’s boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit’s favour,
Rest upon us from above.
Thus may we abide in union
With each other and the Lord,
And possess in sweet communion,
Joys which earth cannot afford.
To the God whose wisdom made us,
To the Son who set us free,
To the sanctifying Spirit,
Glory, endless glory, be!