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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Knowing laughter

We hope the church laughs in the light of God's wonderful grace

As I enter my twilight years in public ministry, I dare to confess a matter of personal taste that will leave some gasping: I don't like .

It's not the theology of Amazing Grace that troubles me. I have no theological quarrel with it. Verily, it states a basic tenet of Lutheran theology that we are indeed saved by grace. I've read enough about the hymn's history to know that the author of the words, John Fort Newton, old slave trader that he was, marveled that God's grace could extend even to "a wretch" like himself. So far so good.

It's the music that bugs me. Amazing Grace drones along slowly, somberly and endlessly. It sounds like a bagpipe song even when the pipes aren't playing. Amazing Grace is popular at funerals. It should be. It sounds like a funeral. The music doesn't seem to fit the words.


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