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Tracing the lasting impact of the hymn Amazing Grace
Published by: themagicmuseum (16) on Wed, Sep 17, 2014  |  Word Count: 477  |  Comments ( 0)  l  Rating
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In previous articles, we illustrated how the treasury of fine art can help counter the alarming decline of historical literacy. That blog employed J.M.W. Turner’s painting, “The Slave Ship,” to amplify a historical incident and key background in the in the history of slavery and the abolitionist movement. To demonstrate how a single artifact has versatile potential to transmit broader historical lessons, I will reemploy the same Turner masterpiece to help trace the lasting impact of the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” a spiritual song of redemption that resonates with diverse audiences spanning Evangelical Christians to politically left-leaning folk singers.

The lyrics to “Amazing Grace” were composed by John Newton and first appeared in 1779, six decades before Turner completed his iconic painting. Turner’s, “The Slave Ship.” depicts the heinous act of a slave ship captain ordering the casting overboard and murder of 133 chained slaves.

While Newton, a former slave ship captain, was not associated with such a heinous act to garner insurance funds derived from “lost cargo,” the depiction of a slave ship terrifyinglyclose to sinking in a ferocious storm could depict the incident that started slave ship captain Newton on his path to redemption. In 1748, a violent storm battered his ship so relentlessly, Newton plead to God for mercy, promising to change his sinful life if spared from the storm. Newton’s ship was spared, and he began studying Christian theology.

In 1764, the former slave ship captain was ordained in the Church of England, and he began writing religious hymns for services. “Amazing Grace” first appeared in print in 1779 and was joined in melody with a tune titled, “New Britain,” creating the classic which continues to inspire a vast array of audiences to the present day.

Newton biographer, Jonathan Aitken, estimates that “Amazing Grace” is performed nearly 10 million times each year. Beyond its influence in folk music, it has become a standard African-American spiritual. But someone wishing to inform an audience of the circumstances that inspired the classic words of the hymn would be well served by displaying the powerful Turner painting completed in 1840.

About The Author:-

The Magic Museum, The Isaacson Series in Youth Literature - An enchanting children's book that tells the story of a 12-year old skateboarder (Jack) and a ballerina (Jacqueline) who whispers to him from an Edgar Degas painting in a fine arts museum. A wonderful way for parents to introduce fine art and engage children (ages 8 to 12 years old) in the art of visual storytelling and imagination

For More Information on The Magic Museum Book, visit -http://www.isaacsonseries.com
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