Monday, August 11, 2008

Songs of Praise - Dr. Watts & John Newton

All summer in worship we're focusing on church music. We're also singing our hearts out. On August 3 we focused on the greatest English language hymn writer - Isaac Watts and the greatest English language hymn - Amazing Grace. (Written not by Isaac Watts, but by John Newton.)

We mostly sang the classics by Watts: Joy to the World, I Sing the MIghty Power of God, I Love the Lord who Heard my Cry and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

But we focused on Amazing Grace.

What struck me most as I studied this hymn was how the last verse:
"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"

moves the hymn from earth to heaven. This verse is why we sing Amazing Grace at funerals. But John Newton didn't write the last verse. His verses are very much bound here on earth. Try singing Amazing Grace without the last verse. It's a different song. Just as beautiful. Just as meaningful. But different.

Amazing Grace sculpture by Gail Collins
Amazing Grace collage by Amy Rehnae
Amazing Grace the movie

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