X Factor Rebecca Ferguson Sings One of The Best Movies Never Yet Made: AMAZING GRACE.
Jonathan Stuart-Brown for Save The British Film Industry.
The composer of Amazing Grace was John Newton. John Who ? A truly wretch of a man who had the most staggering religious conversion in a storm off the coast of Africa in which he was certain he would die in minutes. He did not. Instead a criminal who had committed the greatest crimes in the transport of slaves became a new person. He started the political fight against slavery and wrote the text book on such campaigning. Eventually he realised that indoctrinating children in the evil of slavery was the key and his 9 year old protoge William Wilberforce completed his work in outlawing slavery everywhere in the British Empire and pressurising The USA to do the same.
A nemesis, Charles Darwin played his own long game in his attempt to re-introduce slavery and racism. His book published in 1859 in support of the pro-slavery lobby on the eve of the American Civil War – in which slavery could have prevailed in the world – was originally titled ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’. The latter part of the title, which gives the true agenda away, was only dropped in 1872 in the sixth edition.
|On the Origin of Species|
For a generation it seemed that Newton and Wilberforce had prevailed. However, Hitler became the finest student of Darwin in practising the evil of racism Darwin style.
Nonetheless, as belief in evolution collapses in the world as a whole -especially the rapidly growing economies- so it is John Newton who re-emerges as the victor.
Newton realised that his beliefs in all people being created by God needed more than books. It needed music. He wrote over 400 hymns and also put together the first hymn book including those by Methodist composers such as Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley. Newton forced the Anglican Church to put this hymn book in every Parish and to use it. This was a bigger shock than rock and roll taking over from jazz music. Newton became Vicar in Westminster to preach to the faces of the political leaders in Parliament and to make them sing the songs.
Newton was also aged 22 -prior to his conversion at sea- a white slave in chains in Africa, the plaything of a Black African Princess. The list of times he escaped death was a true Indiana Jones affair. He also literally got a letter in a bottle back to England.
Before writing the epic 1970s “Roots” which transformed American TV, Alex Haley visited Newton’s Parish in Olney and prayed there.
The phrase God moves in Mysterious Ways was written by William Cowper his next door neighbour about Newton’s conversion at sea and complete change of character determined to change the world for God and for good.
“God moves in a mysterious way His Wonders to perform, He plants His feet upon the waves and rides upon the storm”
But if John Newton is remembered today at all by name, it is for AMAZING GRACE.
Will they be singing ‘My Way’, ‘Hey Jude’ or Lady Gaga in 250 years time ?
Rebecca Ferguson did his song proud. Maybe someone will now make the film.