There is a hymn writer, who has written over 40 hymns; one of which you all most-likely know, that has included “lambs” or “sheep” in every one of her hymn lyrics. Who is the hymn writer and what’s her most famous hymn?
Pastors & Worship Leaders – This is a nice piece of trivia to tell your congregation the next time that you sing this song in worship.
The answer will be posted this weekend if no one else has posted the correct answer by then.
(John 10:27-28) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
Answer: The hymn writer is Henrietta L. von Hayes (1724 – 1782) and her most famous hymn is “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb”
This is an introduction to be read by the worship leader prior to singing the hymn.
John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace” was, at one point in his life, “the worst of sinners.” He personally ruined over 20,000 lives selling 20,000 young Africans; that’s 20,000 people created by God, in His image, and Newton sold them like cattle into a life of unending slavery. He never knew their names, never cared to know their names, in fact history tells us that Newton simply referred to them all as “grunts.” Newton was guilty for grievous crimes against humanity. But God used this man to change the course of History. John Newton was lost; but now He’s found, He was blind; but now He sees. Newton was writing about himself. Newton was the wretch. He came full circle. This is a story of one man coming to faith, renouncing the life that he once served.
You may have come here this morning thinking that you’re sins are unforgivable. This may be the first time that you’ve been in a church for over 10 years. On Good Friday, some 2000 years ago, a Roman soldier plunged a sword into the side of a dying innocent man. In fact, this innocent man was God himself. Quite a sin you must be thinking, right? But guess what covered that sharp tipped sword when it was removed from Jesus’ side. It was literally covered by the blood of Jesus. I don’t know if that Roman soldier ever came to faith in Jesus; but if He did, that sin was covered and paid for in full. It’s amazing grace!
My chains are gone. I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace. (Chris Tomlin; lyrics to “Amazing Grace – My Chains are Gone)
Some of the text in this reading are from the major motion picture “Amazing Grace”.
A Responsive Reading
Based on Palms 107:23 – 32
John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace”, had received some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child, but he had long since given up any religious convictions. However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.
Pastor: Others went out on the sea in ships;
Congr: they were merchants on the mighty waters.
Pastor: They saw the works of the LORD,
Congr: his wonderful deeds in the deep.
Pastor: For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
Congr: that lifted high the waves.
Words of John Newton:
I went to bed that night in my usual security and indifference: but was awaked from a sound sleep by the force of a violent sea, which broke on board us. So much of it came down below as filled the cabin I lay in with water. This alarm was followed by a cry from the deck, that the ship was going down, or sinking. The sea had torn away the upper timbers on one side, and made the ship a mere wreck in a few minutes.
Pastor: They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
Congr: in their peril their courage melted away.
Pastor: They reeled and staggered like drunken men;
Congr: they were at their wits’ end.
Words of John Newton:
I was obliged to return to the pump, and there I continued till noon, almost every passing wave breaking over my head; but we made ourselves fast with ropes, that we might not be washed away. Indeed I expected that every time the vessel descended in the sea, she would rise no more. About nine o’clock, being almost spent with cold and labour, I went to speak with the captain.
Pastor: Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
Congr: and he brought them out of their distress.
Pastor: He stilled the storm to a whisper;
Congr: the waves of the sea were hushed.
Words of John Newton:
Just as I was returning from him, I said, almost without any meaning, “If this will not do, the Lord have mercy on us!” I was instantly struck with my own words, and as Jehu said once, What hast thou to do with peace, so it directly occurred, What mercy can there be for me? I concluded at first; that my sins were too great to be forgiven.
When I saw beyond all probability, there was still hope of respite, and heard about six in the evening that the ship was freed from water, there arose a gleam of hope; I thought I saw the hand of God displayed in our favour: I began to pray. I could not utter the prayer of faith: I could not draw near to a reconciled God, and call him Father. My prayer was like the cry of the ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear. I now began to think of that Jesus whom I had so often derided: I recollected the particulars of his life, and of his death:- a death for sins not his own, but, as I remembered, for the sake of those who in their distress should put their trust in Him.
Pastor: They were glad when it grew calm,
Congr: and he guided them to their desired haven.
Pastor: Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
Congr: and his wonderful deeds for men.
Pastor: Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
Congr: and praise him in the council of the elders.
Words of John Newton:
When we came into port, our very last victuals were boiling in the pot; and before we had been there two hours, the wind, which seemed to have been providentially restrained till we were in a place of safety, began to blow with great violence; so that, if we had continued at sea that night in our shattered enfeebled condition, we must, in all human appearance, have gone to the bottom.
About this time I began to know that there is a God that hears and answers prayer.
While Amazing Grace has a reference to 1Chronicles 17:16-17 in the Onley hymnal, it is more likely to be based on Ephesians 2:4-9, Paul’s great treatise on Grace, which says:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. [NIV]
1. Scripture text is from the NIV (Zondervan Publishing)
2. http://www.johnnewton.org/Mobile/default.aspx?article_id=72948 – modifed and adapted by S. Brown.