Amazing Grace is one of the hymns written by John Newton in the small market town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, England, where Dan Evans has lived with his wife Mary for the past 28 years.
a little history (in a very brief nutshell)
The remarkable story goes that English-born Newton became ill in Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa and was cared for by the local people. Later, he worked on the slave-ships which transported millions of black Africans in appalling conditions, from Sierra Leone to the Caribbean, to work in the cotton fields and sugar plantations. One wild night a severe storm threatened to capsize Newton’s ship and later, as a consequence, he became a ‘storm convertite’. Newton then regretted his former ways and became a clergyman, preaching at St Peter & St Paul Church here in Olney, where his pulpit can still be seen.
Newton went on to support William Wilberforce to succeed in getting the abolition of slavery bill through Parliament, known as the ‘Slave Trade Act 1807’. 2007 saw celebrations here in Olney of the bi-centenary of the bill to abolish slavery. (Ironically, Dan was working at a dulcimer festival in Indiana, USA at the time but was honoured to be invited to close the festival by performing Amazing Grace on the dulcimer, a feat which he repeated in 2017.)
Now in 2023, 250 years after the authoring of the hymn Amazing Grace, celebrations abound around the world, especially here in Olney, which is now known as ‘The Home Of Amazing Grace’. A new Amazing Grace Orchard has been planted this year in Olney and was formally opened on the 9th July this year.
Cowper & Newton Museum
The Cowper & Newton Museum, here in Olney is a repository for all things relating to the hymn and its author. The Museum’s website holds much information about the remarkable story of Amazing Grace as well as local events to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the hymn.
join in the celebrations (free TAB)
Dulcimer players as well as other musicians and singers are invited to sing and play Amazing Grace wherever you live this year to commemorate its 250th anniversary. Here is some notation and TAB that may help for singers and mountain dulcimer players …
- Amazing Grace as a song with chords in DAA tuning
- chord charts and picking patterns for the song
- Amazing Grace as a dulcimer instrumental in DAA tuning
- simplified version for dulcimer in Bagpipe tuning
photographs of Olney
As a retired photographer, Dan has captured many local images. A few further photographs of Olney and its environs can be seen here.