Amazing Grace (Thank You Jesus)

“Amazing Grace” is probably one of the most iconic songs in existence! The trouble with iconic songs is that people can end up singing them with no thought to what they’re actually singing about. Amazing Grace has been in more movies than I can count, and most of the time the movies had nothing at all to do with Jesus, the cross, us being wretched sinners, or anything at all even Christian! It’s there as mood music, or as a veiled reference to redemption- not redemption through Jesus mind you, just redemption.

“Amazing Grace” has become like “The Lord’s Prayer”. We know it, we can recite it by rote, but are the truths of the song alive to us?


Living it, or just singing about it?

You can be sure that when John Newton wrote the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” he wasn’t mindlessly reciting. You don’t write about being a wretched sinner unless you’re feeling at least a little bit vile. You don’t pen lyrics about being spiritually lost and blind unless you’re feeling somewhat vacant. Likewise, the thrill of being delivered from the ugly mess that is you, by a God who loves you even though you are an ugly mess, isn’t something you find yourself writing about unless a major event has opened your eyes and changed your life.

And that is the problem with an iconic song like Amazing Grace- while it was true for Newton, it may not be so true of us! Anyone can sing a song, even someone with absolutely no experience in what the song’s about can sing it, but have you felt the weight of it? Have you soared to the heights of it? Do you know your own vile wretchedness? Have you experienced the joy of sins forgiven in Jesus Christ and been made a “new creation”?


The trouble with iconic songs

Long after the secular hits have been forgotten, songs like “Amazing Grace” will live on. But there again is the trouble- iconic songs live on whether the generation living 1000 years down the road even knows what the song’s talking about anymore!

“Yeah, Yeah, Amazing Grace, that would be a cool song for that moment in the movie where the character that went wrong is embraced by his family again.”

Or maybe it’s used in the scene where the drug addict finds his way back to community and healing.

No, no. Don’t you see? The thing that is “amazing”, the thing that this song is talking about, is JESUS CHRIST.

It’s not a feel good song meant to be sung at the emotional stirring point of a movie, or an anthem song sung after a tragedy while a community holds hands and sways together in tears. “Amazing Grace” is about JESUS CHRIST first and foremost; it is about how He takes sinful people and wrecked lives; how He takes struggling sinners by the hand and delivers them out of darkness. There is no “Amazing Grace” without Jesus.


Amazing Grace- Thank You Jesus

It’s said the lyrics to Amazing Grace have been associated with at least 20 melodies. That doesn’t surprise me- After I wrote my version of Amazing Grace I became friends with someone else who had just written her own melody for it. (I wish I could share hers with you- it’s beautiful, but as of yet, not yet filed for copyright.) Then, of course, there’s also Chris Tomlin’s recent version “Amazing Grace, My chains are gone”. What’s happening here that new melodies are constantly being written for words that were first penned in 1772?

When I wrote my version of Amazing Grace it was out of a reflective moment of looking back at the goodness, mercy and love of God toward me. Like the lyrics of the song, my life has gone though many things, of which Jesus has brought me though them all. And as I sat there in our apartment I couldn’t help but think of how wonderful God’s love has been to me. I’m totally undeserving of His love, and yet He has totally poured out His love upon me. So my version is just me saying, “Thank You! Thank You Jesus, for loving me.” I’m not worthy of God’s love, but Jesus has given Himself for me, and to me, COMPLETELY.

The reason so many others have written new melodies for the song is that we have, like John Newton before us, been amazed by Jesus. I personally think new versions of the song are good because they present Newton’s lyrics in a new way and make us think. Amazing Grace is not amazing if you have never personally experienced it! Singing an iconic song can make you feel cozy I suppose, like you’re a part of the stream of those who came before you, but it’s better by far to swim in the stream yourself.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)



Amazing Grace (Thank You Jesus!)- Lyrics

by: Mike Helms

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.


T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.


The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.


When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.


© Mike Helms- Songs of Jesus Music