Recently, I was listening to a version of “Amazing Song” and decided to do a little research on the man who wrote the hymn. I was surprised to learn that John Newton, the composer, was originally a slave trader whose ship was threatened in 1748 by such a violent storm that Newton fell to his knees and prayed to be saved. He made it safely back to American shores where he kept his promise. He became a preacher and among many good deeds he did, he wrote meaningful, heartfelt hymns that spoke to the human experience.
In 1772, he wrote “Amazing Grace” albeit the original name was “Faith’s Review and Expectation.”
Now, in many ways the music is rather unremarkable in this day and age of computer programs that can analyze songs and identify which songs have sufficient markers to become Top 40 hits. And the words are a little worse for wear, having been sung by soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and by Native American Indians as a requiem on the Trail of Tears.
It has found its way into some of the most pivotal periods in history since it was written and within its lines and between its notes, a strength has woven a tapestry that tells the story of human devastation alongside undying belief in the goodness of mankind. It speaks to the belief that we are so much more than the best each of us has been to date.
And as I was writing this blog entry, we were hit with a 5.5 magnitude earthquake just 2 hours east. Nature is a powerful force that no man can control or rule over. This event was felt as far south as Boston, MA (more than a 10 hour drive south from here) and as far east as Madison, WI (more than a 13 hour drive slightly south, and quite a bit west from here). We live about 2 1/2 hours west of the earthquake epicentre which was just outside Ottawa, ON.
If anyone should ever doubt the magnificence of the Universe, experiencing one of nature’s moments will surely shake you into realizing understanding what John Newton must have felt that night back in 1748 as his vessel was being thrown side to side at sea. There is so much more in the world than any of us can see with our own eyes and so much more that we need to shoulder as our own responsibilities. There are those who will tell you that God helps those who help themselves. Let’s start helping ourselves by helping Mother Earth to heal.
And in that moment of caring and compassion, we will be so much more than the best of mankind because we will have dared to do more than we thought we were capable of doing.
UPDATE: The earthquake was rated by the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada as being a 5.0 magnitude earthquake four hours after it hit.
ORIGINAL: Depth of 19.2 km (11.9 miles)
UPDATED: 16.4 km (10.2 miles) set by location program
The largest earthquakes known in this part of Canada occurred in 1935 (M6.1), about 250 km (150 miles) to the northwest of todays event, and in 1732 (M6.2), about 150 km (100 miles) to the east. The nearest earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 was in Cornwall on September 5, 1944 with a depth of 20 km.