“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn with lyrics that were written by English poet and clergyman John Newton in the 18th century.
The tune to which it is commonly sung today was not originally associated with the song, but was added later by American composer William Walker.
The hymn has since become one of the most popular and recognizable hymns in the world, and has been covered by countless artists across a variety of genres.
“Amazing Grace” Brief Song History
“Amazing Grace” is a well-known Christian hymn that was written by John Newton in the late 18th century. Newton was a former slave trader who had a profound religious conversion and became an Anglican clergyman.
The lyrics of the song were first published in 1779 in a collection of hymns titled “Olney Hymns,” which Newton co-wrote with his friend William Cowper.
The song quickly became popular and has been a beloved hymn in Christian churches ever since.
The melody of “Amazing Grace” is based on a traditional tune known as “New Britain,” which was first published in a hymnbook in 1829.
The combination of Newton’s powerful lyrics and the simple yet beautiful melody of “New Britain” has made “Amazing Grace” one of the most recognizable and beloved hymns in the world.
Over the years, “Amazing Grace” has been covered by countless artists and has been used in many different contexts, from religious services to funerals to political rallies.
The song’s message of redemption and grace has resonated with people of all backgrounds and has become a symbol of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Intermediate Version in Eb Major (GCEA Tuning)
Easy Version in G Major (DGBE Baritone Tuning)
A baritone ukulele is a larger member of the ukulele family, with a longer scale length and lower tuning than the traditional soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles.
Fingerstyle Tabs Video in G Major
Here’s a Fingerstyle Tab arrangement:
“Amazing Grace” Song Facts
Here are some interesting facts about “Amazing Grace”:
- The hymn was first published in 1779, but it is believed to have been written by John Newton several years earlier, possibly as early as 1760.
- The melody of “Amazing Grace” is thought to be based on a traditional tune called “New Britain,” which was popular in the 18th century.
- “Amazing Grace” was not originally intended to be a hymn. John Newton wrote the lyrics as a personal reflection on his own spiritual journey and experiences, and he likely never imagined that they would become so widely known and beloved.
- The hymn’s message of redemption and grace has made it popular not only in Christian circles but also in secular contexts. It has been used in numerous films, TV shows, and other media, and has been covered by artists in many different genres.
- The hymn has been translated into countless languages, and is sung by people of many different cultures and faiths around the world.
- The first recorded use of “Amazing Grace” in a public service was at a funeral in 1773. However, it did not become widely known or popular until the early 19th century.
- The hymn has a long history of being associated with social justice movements. It was often sung at abolitionist rallies and civil rights marches, and has been used to express solidarity and hope in times of struggle and oppression.
- “Amazing Grace” is often considered to be John Newton’s most famous work, but he wrote many other hymns and religious texts throughout his career as a clergyman and writer.
- The hymn’s popularity has led to many myths and legends about its origins and meaning. For example, some people believe that the words were inspired by a storm at sea, or that they were written by a slave who was freed by Newton. However, these stories have been debunked by scholars and historians.
Tips for Playing Hymns on Ukulele
Playing hymns on ukulele can be a wonderful way to add a unique and uplifting element to worship or personal devotional time. Here are some tips for playing hymns on ukulele:
- Choose the right key: When selecting a key for a hymn, consider the range of the melody and the vocal range of the congregation or group you’ll be playing with. For example, if the hymn has a high melody, you may want to transpose it to a lower key to make it easier to sing along.
- Use simple chords: Many hymns can be played with just a few basic chords, such as C, F, G, and Am. Try to find a simple chord progression that fits the melody of the hymn and allows you to strum along with ease.
- Focus on the melody: The melody of a hymn is the most important part, so make sure you play it clearly and confidently. You can strum the chords gently in the background to provide a rhythmic accompaniment, but don’t let the chords overpower the melody.
- Add embellishments: Once you feel comfortable with the basic chords and melody, try adding some embellishments to make the arrangement more interesting. You can experiment with fingerpicking, arpeggios, and other techniques to add texture and variation.
- Practice, practice, practice: Like any skill, playing hymns on ukulele takes practice. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the hymn and work on your technique and timing. With enough practice, you’ll be able to play beautiful and inspiring arrangements of your favorite hymns on the ukulele.
Famous Recordings of “Amazing Grace”
“Amazing Grace” has been recorded by numerous artists across various genres, including gospel, folk, rock, and country. Here are some of the most famous recordings of the song:
- Judy Collins: American singer-songwriter Judy Collins released a version of “Amazing Grace” on her 1970 album “Whales & Nightingales”. The song became a hit and helped to popularize the hymn outside of church circles.
- Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul recorded a gospel-infused version of “Amazing Grace” live at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972. The album, also titled “Amazing Grace”, became one of her most successful and critically acclaimed recordings.
- Elvis Presley: The King of Rock and Roll recorded a version of “Amazing Grace” for his 1972 album “He Touched Me”. The song features Presley’s signature gospel-style vocals and has become a beloved rendition of the hymn.
- Johnny Cash: The Man in Black recorded “Amazing Grace” for his 1975 album “Sings Precious Memories”. His stripped-down, acoustic version showcases his distinctive voice and the simplicity of the hymn.
- LeAnn Rimes: The country singer included “Amazing Grace” on her 1997 album “You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs”. Her powerful vocals and modern production breathe new life into the classic hymn.
- Mahalia Jackson: Known as the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson recorded a moving version of “Amazing Grace” that showcases her soulful voice and her deep faith.
These are just a few examples of the many famous recordings of “Amazing Grace”.
As I strummed my ukulele, gently and slow,
I thought of the hymn that everyone knows.
The melody floated through the air,
As I plucked each note with delicate care.
“Amazing Grace” is the song that I play,
Its timeless lyrics still ring true today.
I close my eyes and let my fingers fly,
And the ukulele’s voice echoes high.
The chords rise up, sweet and clear,
As the hymn fills the room, far and near.
The sound of the strings, soft and bright,
Brings a sense of peace, a guiding light.
And in that moment, I feel at ease,
As I play “Amazing Grace” with such ease.
The ukulele sings a joyful sound,
And the hymn fills the air, all around.
So I strum my ukulele, gentle and slow,
Playing “Amazing Grace,” the song that I know.
With each note, I feel my spirit rise,
And my soul is lifted to the skies.