The Amazing Grace Lyrics were written in about 1772 by John Newton who had been a sailor and who had suffered a tremendous struggle with his Faith his whole life, culminating in his complete conversion to Christianity. The Amazing Grace music that we know today was not adopted until the early to mid 1800's.
An excerpt from a website that documents the history of the Amazing Grace lyrics:
"Nevertheless, Newton's life, rife with the "dangers, toils and snares" at which his text hints, repeatedly brought him face-to-face with the notion that he had been miraculously spared. On one occasion, he was thrown from a horse, narrowly missing impalement on a row of sharp stakes. Another time, he arrived too late to board a tender that was carrying his companions to tour a warship; as he watched from the shore, the vessel overturned, drowning all its passengers. Years later, on a hunting expedition in Africa on a moonless night, he and his companions got lost in a swamp. Just when they had resigned themselves to death, the moon appeared and they were able to return to safety. Such near-death were commonplace in Newton's life.
Yet no matter how many times he was rescued, Newton relapsed into his old habits, continuing to defy his religious destiny and attempting to dissuade others from their beliefs. Of all of the sins to which he later confessed, his habit of chipping away at the faith of others remained heaviest on his heart.
In 1744 Newton was press-ganged--taken by force into service in the Royal Navy. He was disgraced, relieved of his post, and traded for another man from a passing merchant ship, a slave vessel.
Beginning his career in slave trading, Newton soon became tempted by its profits. Merchants believed that trafficking in human trade was justified since slavery was permitted in the Bible as long as slaves were treated with dignity and kindness. That Newton engaged in the slave trade in such a manner was demonstrated by the willingness of slaves to secretly carry his letters to port to send to Mary.
Despite a promising start with a slaver off the coast of Sierra Leone, Newton once again found himself in tough straits. Felled by malaria, he was at the mercy of the slaver's native mistress, whose abuse reduced him to the condition of the "wretch" he later described in "Amazing Grace." He recovered, however, but was soon to face another trial during which he was strengthened and inspired by Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ.
Newton was aboard ship one night when a violent storm broke out. Moments after he left the deck, the crewman who had taken his place was swept overboard. Although he manned the vessel for the remainder of the tempest, he later commented that, throughout the tumult, he realized his helplessness and concluded that only the grace of God could save him. Prodded by what he had read in Kempis, Newton took the first--albeit small--step toward accepting religion. In the words of his hymn, this incident marked "the hour I first believed."" Read the rest of John Newton's interesting story .
An Original Version for Amazing Grace Lyrics:Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved 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 relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised 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 called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
—John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779
Purchase the Sheet Music for Amazing Grace Lyrics