Unmerited Favour

Posted by M ws On Sunday, June 9, 2013 1 comments
Decades ago, my Sunday School teacher was then a Mathematics teacher in MBS. Today, Rev. Hwa Jen is the pastor of Wesley Methodist Church, Penang. I still remember what he told us when discussing the meaning of grace - unmerited favour. Thanks to him, I memorised chunks of scripture verses which I remember and can recite easily till today.

Christians believe that no one deserve to ask any favour from the Almighty but in His love, He showed us His grace. Even before I became a Christian in 1973, 'Amazing Grace' has always been my favourite hymn. I have told both my boys that when I die, this song MUST be played at my funeral service together with my other favourites.

Here's a snippet of what my boys and I recorded. We actually started in C major and modulated with every verse till we ended at  G major. With each modulation, we changed the style of music from soul to rock to blues. I clipped  the wav file lest you are shocked beyond measure. Strings were played by both boys and yours truly the vocals and piano.

video

The beautiful hymn was written by John Newton. Here's something which might interest you wrt to his background and why he wrote the song.

*Note: I am not trying to convert anyone to Christianity and am merely sharing my love for this hymn and background information of the composer.

Excerpt:

"Amazing Grace" is John Newton's spiritual autobiography in verse. In 1725, Newton was born in Wapping, a district in London near the Thames. His father was a shipping merchant who was brought up as a Catholic but had Protestant sympathies, and his mother was a devout Independent unaffiliated with the Anglican Church. She had intended Newton to become a clergyman, but she died of tuberculosis when he was six years old. For the next few years, Newton was raised by his emotionally distant stepmother while his father was at sea, and spent some time at a boarding school where he was mistreated. At the age of eleven, he joined his father on a ship as an apprentice; his seagoing career would be marked by headstrong disobedience.

As a youth, Newton began a pattern of coming very close to death, examining his relationship with God, then relapsing into bad habits. As a sailor, he denounced his faith after being influenced by a shipmate who discussed Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, a book by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, with him. In a series of letters he later wrote, "Like an unwary sailor who quits his port just before a rising storm, I renounced the hopes and comforts of the Gospel at the very time when every other comfort was about to fail me." His disobedience caused him to be pressed into the Royal Navy, and he took advantage of opportunities to overstay his leave and finally deserted to visit Mary "Polly" Catlett, a family friend with whom he had fallen in love. After enduring humiliation for deserting,[a] he managed to get himself traded to a slave ship where he began a career in slave trading.

John Newton in his later years
Newton often openly mocked the captain by creating obscene poems and songs about him that became so popular the crew began to join in.[9] He entered into disagreements with several colleagues that resulted in his being starved almost to death, imprisoned while at sea and chained like the slaves they carried, then outright enslaved and forced to work on a plantation in Sierra Leone near the Sherbro River. After several months he came to think of Sierra Leone as his home, but his father intervened after Newton sent him a letter describing his circumstances, and a ship found him by coincidence. Newton claimed the only reason he left was because of Polly.

While aboard the ship Greyhound, Newton gained notoriety for being one of the most profane men the captain had ever met. In a culture where sailors commonly used oaths and swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had ever heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery. 

In March 1748, while the Greyhound was in the North Atlantic, a violent storm came upon the ship that was so rough it swept overboard a crew member who was standing where Newton had been moments before.After hours of the crew emptying water from the ship and expecting to be capsized, Newton and another mate tied themselves to the ship's pump to keep from being washed overboard, working for several hours. After proposing the measure to the captain, Newton had turned and said, "If this will not do, then Lord have mercy upon us!" Newton rested briefly before returning to the deck to steer for the next eleven hours. During his time at the wheel he pondered his divine challenge.

About two weeks later, the battered ship and starving crew landed in Lough Swilly, Ireland. For several weeks before the storm, Newton had been reading The Christian's Pattern, a summary of the 15th-century The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. The memory of the uttered phrase in a moment of desperation did not leave him; he began to ask if he was worthy of God's mercy or in any way redeemable as he had not only neglected his faith but directly opposed it, mocking others who showed theirs, deriding and denouncing God as a myth. He came to believe that God had sent him a profound message and had begun to work through him.


AMAZING GRACE

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd 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 reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ'd!

Thro' many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis'd 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 call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779

1 comments to Unmerited Favour

  1. says:

    Gem Is it any wonder that a friend refers to the hymn as a funeral song?
















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