OK, I’m not sure how I feel about this. For me, there is perhaps no song more sacred than Amazing Grace. First is its incredible story — how a former slave ship captain turned preacher, John Newton, writes a song as a testimony about his redemption and it becomes the most popular hymn in the world, especially, paradoxically in the American black church. Second is the wonderful music, a standard tune grafted to it over 50 years after it was written, but seemingly perfectly fit. But especially, the lyrics, those words that poured from the former slaver’s heart that so perfectly and economically capture the turning point. Amazing Grace also has become a standard among those in recovery, who know a thing or two about wretchedness, unearned grace and redemption.
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.
So is this a loving rendition or a postmodern farce? And lacking the words, it’s not really Amazing Grace at all. It’s New Britain, the original tune. But when I hear it of course I think of Amazing Grace, including the lyrics, and so, that’s what it is. And while this must be the weirdest arrangement I’ve ever heard, it is beautiful in its way, so I accept it as that. What do you think? (Hat tip to @shipoffoolscom via @openculture.)