Hymns of Praise

Day 1 of 9 • This day’s reading

Am I really a wretch?

Many years ago I heard the broadcast of a concert by folksinger Judy Collins. She led a closing sing-along of the famous gospel hymn “Amazing Grace,” but she wanted people to refer to themselves as “souls.” “You aren’t wretches,” she cried.

John Newton, the poem’s author, would have disagreed strenuously. He had been the captain of a slave-trading ship and after coming to faith in Christ bitterly regretted the cruelties of his past life. He meant every word of what he wrote:

"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."

St. Paul’s gratitude for God’s grace and mercy also arose from his deep personal shame. He knew that he needed a Savior and was mighty glad to have found one in Christ. “For that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16). The forgiveness of his many and grievous sins gave him peace in his heart and hope for his future.

So tell me--are you a wretch too?