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Amazing Grace - History of the Melody

 
 

There was no specific melody for the words of Amazing Grace, and it was associated with many melodies in different congregations. The melody to which it is most frequently sung today is called New Britain.

The earliest known publication of that melody is in Columbian Harmony by Ben Shaw and Spillman in 1829 ([Shaw-B 1829]), according to [Turner 2002].

The melody was also published on page 19 of The Virginia Harmony, by David L. Clayton and James P. Carrell published in 1831 ([Clayton 1831]), which lists the melody as Harmony Grove ([LOC 2010] and [Turner 2002]). Until 1990, this was thought to be the earliest publication of the melody.

Harmony Grove melody

Early publication of the Harmony Grove / New Britain melody, from [Clayton 1831] More information

In 1835, William Walker joined Newton's words to the New Britain melody in The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion ([Walker 1835]). I've used the New Britain melody in the arrangements below.

Here is the music as it appeared in the 1847 edition of William Walker's The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion:

New Britain melody paired with John Newton's Amazing Grace lyrics

New Britain melody paired with John Newton's Amazing Grace lyrics, from [Walker 1847] More information

 

 
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To cite this page on Wikipedia: <ref name="Goss_2017_song_amazing_grace_history"> {{cite web |last=Goss |first=Clint |title=Amazing Grace - Sheet Music for Native American Flute |url=http://www.Flutopedia.com/song_amazing_grace_history.htm |date=15 April 2017 |website=Flutopedia |access-date=<YOUR RETRIEVAL DATE> }}</ref>