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.
By: John Newton, 1725-1807
Listen as you read. This version is from Sacred Piano by Paul Cardall.
Well, I think it sounds like a lot of different things, but I would agree with John Newton that it’s always sweet, and when rightly considered should always leave me amazed. So why is it that I tend to not be very amazed, and often do not realize just how sweet grace is? I suppose some of that has to do with the fact that I don’t realize just how lost or blind I was, and tend to still be when I do not live in a conscious awareness of Grace, of which my Savior is the embodiment, but I will leave that for Thursday Thoughts. See Lost and Blind, Not a Very Enviable Position.
I was attending a church service when I first heard it. Sitting there in that pew I was wrestling with what I had heard before and what I was hearing. I had been struggling to reconcile my desire for understanding with my need for faith. Grace reconciled this.
A few weeks later I was baptized. But before I went under the water, I stood and sang this new song I had learned which expressed really well how I felt about the transaction that had taken place, and the new position I had before God. You guessed it, “Amazing Grace”.
I want to encourage you to consider what it sounded like to you when you first heard it. I know the next stanza speaks about how precious it appeared, but for now I want you to remember and imagine what it sounded like.
Newton says “how sweet the sound”. The juxtaposition of sweetness with wretchedness gives us a glimpse into the contrast that was apparent to him . My inclination is to think about something tangible like candy versus garbage, but I want us to stick with the analogy of choice by our writer.
Grace Aids Intonation
If grace is sweet, then lostness is wretched. But what might be our musical parallel? If grace is tuned, then wretchedness is detuned, or untuned. See where I am going with this?
This analogy will resonate within the hearts of the musicians especially, but I am certain it is not lost by most others. Try to imagine a clear sounding note on a piano. Did you know that middle C has two strings that are tuned in unison? Old pianos which are not maintained have that detuned honky-tonk sound. A tuned middle C versus an untuned middle C are a reasonable example of sweetness and wretchedness.
When a piano note is not tuned to unison, there is a dissonance within a single pitch. It makes many of us cringe to hear that terrible sound. When it is tuned to unison, that dissonance disappears. That lack of dissonance is called consonance, but suffice it to say, it sounds good. Here is a simple example of these differing sounds.
In short, grace sounds sweet. Grace reconciles the dissonance in our souls. It may be better said that grace creates the consonance our souls crave, then we spend the rest of this life trying to maintain that sound. That sweet, sweet sound.
So how do you do that? Maintain that consonance. Well, that’s the journey we are going on together, but it begins by acknowledging we know what it sounds like, because after all that is the only way to tune ourselves to it.
Holy Spirit, the Strobotuner
The memory that comes to mind to me is standing if front a tuner in my high school band room trying to get the needle to go straight up, or the bars to stop moving, something like the one pictured above. There are digital versions that simulate that on our smartphones today, and maybe even do a much better job. Any musician will tell you playing in tune is something that you really have to work hard at doing, developing your internal sense of tuning, and always listening to the other sounds around you.
The same is true of the spiritual life. The Holy Spirit is our Strobotuner. We have to come back to Him to make sure we are in tune. We have to work at it, developing our inner sense of how to stay in tune, and listening to what God is saying around us as well, constantly making adjustments because our flesh is prone to pull us out of tune.
But then there’s Grace. Grace gently shows us we are out of tune. Grace tunes us. Grace helps us learn how to stay in tune, and helps us realize when we are out of tune. Grace is sweet.
Holy Spirit, thank You for helping me hear grace in the first place. Thank You for cultivating in me a desire for consonance, and helping me identify the dissonance in my life, and my inclination to create more apart from You. Tune my ears to hear Grace around me and in me everyday, and enable me to choose to align the music of my life to it more and more. In Jesus name. Amen.
Please comment below and share if you have found this helpful in your journey of being more resonant.
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