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It takes one to know one

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me...

These words could have come from the prodigal son in the parable Jesus told. It tells of a man with two sons, the younger of which takes his inheritance early, squanders it and then, coming to his senses, returns home and casts himself on his father's mercy. Not only does his father accept him, he restores him to a better position than before he left and throws a party to celebrate.

John Newton, who penned the words for Amazing Grace, was a latter day prodigal son. Having been raised in the "school of hard knocks", he lived a life of extraordinary recklessness and immorality, working on slave ships between Africa and the Caribbean. After a couple of false starts and close shaves, Newton finally turned to God and his life was transformed. He became a minister and campaigned for the end of the slave trade.

In his parish in Buckinghamshire he held a weekly prayer meeting, for which he composed a hymn - one of which expressed his own faith journey. Written in 1772, Amazing Grace still resonates and is reckoned to be the most recorded song of all time. Doesn't that tell us something about the yearning in the human soul - for forgiveness and reconciliation?



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