That old-time gospel hymn “Amazing Grace” has undergone a lyrical facelift in some new songbooks. The “wretches” once set free by that amazine grace no longer are in the song.
A Catholic blogger who goes by the name Miss Kelly in the online world made the discovery Sunday during mass and registered her gripe at her blog, which is named for her dog. The Anchoress and Captain’s Quarters also blogged about it.
The lyrics that most Christians know by heart proclaim, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” The newer version drops the reference to any wretches: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved and set me free.”
After reading a blurb at Captain’s Quarters, I googled the new phrase and it appears to have been around for a few years anyway. Singer Mindy Jostyn, who died a year ago this month, used the modern version in her performances, and a 2001 posting on a list-serv made note of the change in a broader complaint about political correctness in religion.
There is nothing unscriptural in the new lyrics, and the message is still a good one: Those who are baptized into Christ and arise to walk in newness of life are saved and set free from their sins. That said, I agree with Miss Kelly: “What exactly makes it necessary in 2006 to rewrite the lyrics of a song written in 1790?
“The song’s author, John Newton, of London was a slave trader before coming to Christ (and apparently for a while after, too). He knows what he’s talking about when he calls himself a ‘wretch.’ I prefer his profoundly inspired words over a 21st century happy-face rewrite.”
Filed under: Music and Religion