Piping ques./not dance related

John Chambers

Message 41348 · 1 Jun 2005 00:07:12 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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| Was [Amazing Grace] not a spiritual before it became a piping tune?
|
| Pia

Yep. Since I'd heard conflicting stories about its origins, I took a
few minutes to google for it. To find the history quickly, look for
"Amazing Grace" and "John Newton", who was the composer. He was an
English fellow, who started out following his father as a merchant
sailor, and was involved in the slave trade. It seems he had a
religious experience, being at the tiller during a violent storm at
sea, and the ship was saved by his prayers. Some time after this, he
resigned from the slave trade and became an Anglican minister. He
spent some years in the small town of Olney (Buckinghamshire). In
1779 he published a hymn book, "Olney Hymns', that was mostly his own
compositions, plus a few by others in his congregation. Amazing Grace
is the best-known hymn in the book.

It was quite popular over here in the Colonies, and is often said to
be a 19th-century American hymn. But that isn't correct, except in
the sense that it was in American hymn books and was well known. It's
still one of the few hymns found in most American hymnals, especially
those used in evangelical churches. (I wonder how many of them know
that it was written by an Anglican minister? ;-)

I do remember hearing it played on bagpipes earlier than the 1970
date of the famous recording. But I suppose that doesn't mean that it
was common then; just that a few pipers discovered that it worked on
their instruments.

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