January 06, 2015

Horse 1816 - Amazing Grace (Amazing Goof by Channel 9)

 Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed
- Amazing Grace, John Newton (1779)

Did you listen to that? Channel 9 have done some crafty edits haven't they? Instead of:
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed

They decide to run with:
How precious did that Grace appear
As long as life endures.

Not only is that a like from a different part of the hymn (because Channel 9 clearly can't stand the whole idea of a song having anything to do with faith in God) but it doesn't make any grammatical sense.
I'm sure that many soldiers at Gallipoli probably knew Amazing Grace but really, this hymn almost seems out of place. The hymn seems to me to be as Australian as Apple Pie and Toad In The Hole.
The story behind the hymn Amazing Grace is worth telling by itself.

The author John Newton himself was a curious character. He among a host of career choices, worked on board slave ships in the Royal Navy. Always a song writer, Newton was told off and reprimanded on several occasions for inventing songs that were ever more profane and debauched. John Newton did use language which made sailors blush and upon the tip of his pen, smut was a market that he could not glut.
Apparently whilst on watch on board his ship the Greyhound, a storm grew up so violently that he and another ships' mate tied themselves to the ship's pump whilst other crew were swept overboard in the north Atlantic. He wrote in his autobiography that he challenged God and said "If this will not do, then Lord have mercy upon us!"; then after taking the wheel, spent the next eleven hours in an Atlantic storm thinking about that challenge before landing in Ireland.

After marrying a family friend called Polly, he spent the next few voyages as captain and found it ever difficult to leave her before tossing in his career in the Royal Navy and then turning his life around 180° to study Latin and Greek before finally being converted and following the God he had mocked in the navy. He would go on to become a bishop and write many hymns including "Amazing Grace" which was published in a collection for his local curate in the Buckinghamshire market town of Olney in 1779.
Even more amazing was that over the next few decades, John Newton would meet up an work with William Wilberforce in the fight for the abolition of slavery; which would culminate in the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807 - an irony considering that he had been captain of slave ships just a few decades earlier.
It also found its way into Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852.

Now I know that Channel 9 are free to take a song in the public domain and use it any way they wish but I suspect that whoever compiled this montage only thought of the aesthetic aspects of the song; certainly they cared not for either the spiritual or cultural associations that the song has.
What made this advert ever more jarring tonight was that NITV was running the PBS Series "The Abolitionists"¹ and so I instantly made the connection with the song... for the wrong station.
Well done Channel 9.


No comments: