Our first hymn of the month was of course Amazing Grace written by John Newton.
I am not sure if you know the whole story of this man, whose birthday happens to be today, but if you don't here is some good info to digest.
Newton’s mother died when he was seven years old. At age 11, with but two years schooling and only a rudimentary knowledge of Latin, John went to sea with his father. His life at sea was filled with wonderful escapes, vivid dreams, and a sailor’s recklessness. He grew into a godless and abandoned man. He was once flogged as a deserter from the navy, and for 15 months lived, half starved and ill treated, as a slave in Africa.
A chance reading of Thomas à Kempis sowed the seed of his conversion. It was accelerated by a night spent steering a waterlogged ship in the face of apparent death. He was then 23 years old. Over the next six years, during which he commanded a slave ship, his faith matured. He spent the next nine years mostly in Liverpool, studying Hebrew and Greek and mingling with Whitefield, Wesley, and the Nonconformists. He was eventually ordained, and became curate at Olney, Buckinghamshire, in 1764. It was at Olney that he formed a life long friendship with William Cowper, and produced the Olney Hymns.
The above taken from NetHymnal.org
If you are interested in a deeper knowing of Mr. Newton, I welcome you to borrow a biography written by Jonathan Aitken. Or you may purchase your own copy here.