The exact date of when John Newton wrote ‘Amazing Grace’ is not known. It is believed that the hymn was written between 1760 and 1770 as part of a weekly service in Olney. Through the years others have written additional verses. It is believe that William Cowper, a poet and friend, colaberated with Newton in many of his writtings. In 1779 the first edition Olney Hymns was published and Amazing Grace first appeared in print. The orginal was six stanzas as pubulished in the first volume closet to Newton death which are believed to be closest to the original.
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)That sav’d a wretch like me!I once was lost, but now am found,Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,And grace my fears reliev’d;How precious did that grace appear,The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,I have already come;’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promis’d good to me,His word my hope secures;He will my shield and portion be,As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,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 forbear to shine;But God, who call’d me here below,Will be forever mine.
The origin of the melody is unknown. Most hymnals attribute it to an early American folk melody. The Bill Moyers special on "Amazing Grace" speculated that it may have originated as the tune of a song the slaves sang.