From the TwinkleTrax album "Scottish Children's Songs - 20 Traditional Celtic Lullabies And Children's Songs"
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my years relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
'Tis grace hath brought be safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We'e no less days to sing in praise
Than when we first begun
The lyrics to this English hymn were written by poet and clergyman John Newton (1725-1807) to illustrate a sermon he gave on New Year's Day of 1773 in his parish of Olney, in Buckinghamshire, England. They were first published in February 1779 in "Olney Hymns", which Newton published with his friend, the poet William Cowper.
It is not known what melody, if any, Newton used to accompany his lyrics. They were set to the tune of an old Scottish folk song called "New Britain" by an American, William Walker (1809-1875), a Baptist song leader from South Carolina, who published them in 1835 in his four-shape tunebook, "The Southern Harmony". It is this tune that is most commonly used for the song today.
Newton's lyrics were autobiographical. He had been brought up without religion, and began his career as a slave trader. One night, his ship was caught in a severe storm, and he was so frightened that he called out to God to save him. He survived, and, convinced that he had been saved by God, quit slave trading and began studying theology.
Origins text ©2011 TwinkleTrax Children's Songs.