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About the project

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will participate?

The Amazing Grace Project encourages every Canadian Anglican to participate. And you don’t even have to be in Canada! Anywhere you happen to be in the world, sing the hymn “Amazing Grace” on Sunday, November 23, and you will be part of the project. And if you make a videotape of yourself (or your group or parish) singing “Amazing Grace” and send it to us, you can share your testament of grace with everyone else.

How do we make a video?

Making a video can be a very simple process. Many groups or parishes have at least one or two members with home video cameras. If you ask for a knowledgeable volunteer, they will be able

to set the camera up on a tripod or table, make sure the whole group can be seen in the frame, turn it on and away you go.

Of course, you can get a lot fancier than that. Many people, especially younger people, have wonderful creativity and visual skills. If that’s the case in your group or parish, go for it! You can get as inventive as you like, then send us the video in any format so we can share it with the whole world.

>> Here are some more tips on how to make a video.

How and when will we see the final video?

By Christmas, a compilation video of all the “Amazing Grace” performances will be available on YouTube, the online video sharing site. However, you must submit your video by December 1, 2008 in order for it to be included.

Where do we send our video?

If you are sending it by mail, here is our address:

The Amazing Grace Project
The Anglican Church of Canada
80 Hayden Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4Y 3G2

[New item] You can also send your video electrically. On November 15th, a file upload box will be placed on the homepage of the Amazing Grace Project.

Take a photo of your group singing!

If you wish, include a still photo of your group singing. We will use the photos on the website in December. We have information on the best photo formats.

Do we need to sing the entire hymn?

No, you can sing as many verses as you choose to sing.

How can we involve our Sunday School?

Watch our website for more information on this. One thing already in the works is that our Primate, the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, will be reading a children’s story online, in chapter segments, throughout the summer.

Where did this idea come from?

During a meeting of the Communications and Information Resources Committee (a standing committee of General Synod), members of the committee took part in a creative exercise to orient new members. They came up with the Amazing Grace Project as a theoretical piece, thinking “wouldn’t it be great if this happened?”

That’s when the Holy Spirit stepped in and all of a sudden people were asking themselves “why not?” This is an idea that, even in its early stages, engaged people immediately, sparking creativity and enthusiasm. And that was the goal of the original exercise—to unite Anglicans from coast to coast to coast in faith and creativity in the spirit of “Amazing Grace.”

Why Sunday November 23?

November 23 is the Sunday before Advent and the last Sunday of the Christian year. In a way it is New Year’s Eve for the church, a time to pause, to reflect, to give thanks and then to begin anew in Advent with hope and expectation. It is also a moment to celebrate the reign of Christ and our efforts to make the Kingdom of God manifest in our lives and the world.

Matthew’s gospel for November 23 (Matt 25:31-46) sets out what is required of those who would inherit the Kingdom of God—that they provide for those in need, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and those in prison. In his commentary on this day in A Year of the Lord Herbert O’Driscoll says, “Matthew’s expression for the reign of Christ is in terms of justice, sharing, self-giving. Where these are found in society or in relationships, there Christ reigns.”

In the Prayer over the Gifts for this day we hear these words:

Almighty and everlasting God.
whose will it is to restore all things
in your well-beloved Son, our Lord and King,
grant that the peoples of the earth,
now divided and enslaved by sin,
may be freed and brought together
under his gentle and loving rule;
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

When we gather together this November 23 to sing “Amazing Grace” we acknowledge and give thanks for the grace of God made manifest in our lives. Like John Newton, who wrote the words of “Amazing Grace,” we are moved to express our thanks to God for his incomparable gifts to us, with gifts of our own—with music, praise, prayer and action. We also gather together to make that grace visible—as an encouragement to ourselves and as a shared offering with all the people of God’s kingdom.

Story behind the hymn “Amazing Grace”

“Amazing Grace” was written by John Newton (1725-1807), who worked as a captain in the slave trade for many years, before surviving a catastrophic storm at sea in March 1748 when he was an ordinary passenger on board. He vowed that if he survived he would change his life.

For the rest of his life, Newton observed the storm date as the day "the Lord sent from on high, and delivered me out of deep waters.” After leaving the slave trade and working as a tide surveyor for nine years, Newton was ordained as a Church of England curate at the age of 39. The hymn we now know as "Amazing Grace" was first published in a collection known as the Olney Hymns in 1779. (Among his other well-known hymns are “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” and “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.”)

In 1780 Newton moved to the Parish of St. Mary's Woolnoth in London where he remained until his death. Newton’s sermons were heard and admired by William Wilberforce, the English MP and campaigner against slavery. Newton died in 1807, the same year that Britain abolished the slave trade with the passing of the Anti-Slavery Bill. (Slavery itself remained legal in Britain and its colonies until 1838.)

Here are the words John Newton will be remembered for as they appear in Common Praise, the hymn book of the Anglican Church of Canada, #352:

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.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
'tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we've no less days to sing God's praise
than when we'd first begun.

download lyrics PDF

For those seeking additional information about the history of the hymn we recommend consulting the article Amazing Grace in Wikipedia.