A panel of musicians, church historians and theologians will discuss the impact and legacy of the hymn “Amazing Grace” and its author Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 10 a.m. Central time at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
2023 marks the 250th anniversary of the song, penned by small-town preacher John Newton in 1773. It would go on to become one the most well-known songs in history.
“Our hope is that our students will get a little taste of what it’s like to study hymnody and understand that it’s not a completely separate subject from church history; it’s one and the same,” said Angela Swain, associate professor of music at MBTS and one of the panelists.
The discussion will cover everything from Newton’s radical conversion to his time preaching in 18th-century England, discussing his time as a slave trader and his eventually becoming a slave of Christ.
“We’re hoping to bring out everything about his life so that it’s like a diamond shining in the brilliance of the darkness of his past,” she said.
Swain will be joined on the panel by Matt Swain, the assistant dean of worship ministries; Thomas Kidd, research professor of church history; Michael McMullen, professor of church history; John Mark Yeats, professor of Church history; and Jason Allen, MBTS president.
As part of the event, attendees will sing two versions of “Amazing Grace:” the “modern” version associated with Chris Tomlin as well as a rendition of all the verses Newton wrote accompanied by organ and piano.
“We want people to learn that studying hymnody has value,” Swain said. “We all ought to own a hymnal in addition to our Bibles.”
For more information, go to mbts.edu. The chapel can be streamed live or after the event at mbts.edu/events/chapel.
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