Friday, October 27, 2006

Amazing Grace

I have always struggled with the hymn Amazing Grace. It has some wonderful imagery in it, yet the playfully twee 3/4 time signature always seems to be too much of a juxtaposition for me; it's to 'nice'!

Be Thou My Vision was one of the first 'hymns' that I found real power in, and that was before we all started playing it in 4/4 with lots of drums. When that revolution came though, so many people found new life in the old song, simply because someone 'messed' with it.

There are lot's of worship leaders who have done their version of old hymns, but only a few have been different enough to be remembered, so when I read my American Friend's blog on some thing Chris Tomin has done, well, I look forward to it with great anticipation...

Jeff MillerComing in last on the CD is Chris's rendition of Amazing Grace. With it, he's done what he had done before on songs like O Worship the King, and When I Survey, which is add a refrain (chorus) to an old, beloved hymn that lacked one.

Here's what Chris's own website has to say about the song:

Closing the album is "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)," a new rendition of the classic hymn. Although initially reluctant to "mess with the most recognized hymn ever," Tomlin discovered after researching the song that the famous last verse was actually written 100 years after John Newton wrote the hymn. Tomlin also discovered an original verse to the song that we no longer sing, but is as relevant today as when it was written. So, Chris took that original verse and, together with Passion founder/director Louie Giglio, co-wrote a new bridge featured on See The Morning:

My chains are gone/I've been set free/My God, my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy reigns/Unending love, Amazing grace.

The new addition is a beauty, and the re-introduction of an original verse just adds to the overall ambiance of the song. Mark my words, we'll be doing this soon in our own services.

So I guess I need to 'See the Morning' to see how well it works!


  1. sounds interesting.... shame you have to buy it to hear it!

    Every time I've seen "Chris's" written in your post I've read it as "Christ's"

  2. Hey Phil,

    Nice to know I've still got some readers out there. Hope you enjoyed your holiday (it looks like you did).

    I personally was skeptical about this song, and the new Tomlin album in general. I think maybe I was just a little burned out on Tomlin.

    The Amazing Grace track was worth the price of the CD for me. I hope you are blessed by it.

    Your American friend,


  3. I have to agree, I think his version is great on the CD - I am however reluctant to lead worship with it as I am concerned people would be significantly thrown.

    Great song. I love the last bunch of acoustic tracks on the cd.

  4. Jeff, the blogring lives! Thanks for your comments.

    Monty, I've yet to here it, but if we can switch 'Be Thou My Vision' from 3/4 to 4/4 can't we add this in too?


  5. Phil

    Its not so much the shift from 3/4 to 4/4 thats an issue for me - its more about the use of new "bits" in between ( I guess you may call it a new chorus ). Then there are new words which are either a long lost part of an original or new ones he has made up.

    See here (should be all one entry with no spaces) - Brenton Brown has put weight on as well since I knew him dow in the Vineyard in London (not that I am as fat as fat can be hehehe).


  6. Hey Monty,

    Thanks for the link. I was referring to Be Thou My Vision when I was talking about the time signature change, Id didn't realise that Amazing Grace (MCAG) was in 4/4 too.

    Maybe you'll try it and let me know?

    I can see us doing it.

  7. I have done amazing grace in 4/4 and I think it works so much better - in fact I wouldn't do it in its original signature anyway. This is down to two reasons - most of the songs that I would compose into a worship set are based around 4/4, and secondly - I think it sounds better from a congregational point of view.

    The other song I like doing out of signature (but aint done it for a long while) is Here Is Love (Vast as the Ocean...). This is oringally 6/8 I believe but try to do it in 2/4 (or is it 4/2 - cannot recall- Im not a music techy) at all.

  8. Anonymous3:54 pm

    We did a very gospel-ly version of Amazing Grace at church one evening service which sounded nice but wasn't very congregation-y. Just thought I'd share that!