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Amazing Grace connections


Amazing Grace was written in Olney by storm convertite John Newton   



Amazing Grace is one of the Olney hymns, written by William Cowper and John Newton, who were both ministers in the small market-town of Olney in Buckinghamshire.  My wife and I live in Olney and a short walk across the fields from our house takes you to Cowper’s Alcove, where Cowper and Newton wrote some of their poems.  As you can imagine, Cowper’s Alcove is one of our favourite paces.


2007 saw celebrations all over the UK, but especially here in Olney, marking the 200th anniversary of the Parliamentiary bill abolishing slavery.  This was because of Amazing Grace and John Newton’s involvement in the bill.


The Story goes that Newton became ill in Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa but was looked after by the local black people, which he was later to exploit.  He then worked on the slave ships, transporting African slaves, in appalling conditions, from Sierra Leone to the Caribbean to work in cotton fields and sugar plantations.  After a while Newton was promoted to captain and one wild night his ship risked being capsized in a storm.  That night he prayed and became one of the ‘storm convertites’, not only regretting his former ways, but becoming a minister and supporting William Wilberforce to get the Abolition of Slavery bill through Parliament.


Bearing this in mind, the words: ‘I once was lost but now I’m found’ seem now to have a deeper resonance.

Olney Church Choir singing Amazing Grace


Different versions of Amazing Grace are featured on my Let It Be Me and Au Vieux Moulin CD albums. 


Visit the Cowper & Newton Museum to learn more about this fascinating story.

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