In evil long I took delight
Unawed by shame or fear;
Till a new object struck my sight
And stopped my wild career.
I saw one hanging on atree
In agony and blood;
Who fixed his languid eyes on me
As near his cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look;
It seemed to change me with his death
Though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt
And plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins his blood had spilt
And helped to nail Him there.
Alas, I knew not what I did
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.
A second look He gave which said
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid
I died that that thou mayest live.”
Thus while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue;
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon, too.
With pleasing grief and mournful joy
My spirit now is filled;
That I should such a life destroy
yet live by Him I killed.
–John Newton, 1779 (author of the text of “Amazing Grace”)
(See the wonderful musical setting by Bob Kauflin)