Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Amazing Grace: The Musical, but all opinions are my own.
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see.”
There’s a song the world knows, but a story it doesn’t.
And as a modern-day abolitionist, that story has touched my heart recently in the most unlikely of settings, New York City’s Broadway.
It’s the story of John Newton, writer of the lyrics to the world’s most famous hymn, Amazing Grace.
You may have heard that Newton was involved in the transatlantic slave trade before he was transformed by God’s grace, but did you know that for a time he was also a slave himself in West Africa?
That’s just one of many details I learned while watching the on-stage musical production of Newton’s evil to good transformation on Broadway. Our family had the chance to see it two weeks ago, and it took my breath away with its high-quality music, cast, and story.
I dare you to watch this clip of the cast on Jimmy Fallon’s show without getting goosebumps!
Getting a show all the way to Broadway is not an easy or quick journey. In fact, it’s taken over a decade. And a homeschooling family had the vision that initially kicked it all off.
Chris Smith, author of Amazing Grace: The Musical, was about the farthest thing from a Broadway writer you could imagine ten years ago.
He was a police officer and homeschooling father the day he wandered into a library and randomly picked up a copy of John Newton’s autobiography.
Suddenly Chris could “see” the story on stage as a musical:
I went to my wife and laid out this crazy vision, I would write an epic musical based on the life of John Newton. The only problem was I didn’t know how to write a musical. She looked into my eyes and said that she believed I could do it.
Learn more about the show and John Newton:
Our kids (ages 10, 11, and 12) joined us for Amazing Grace. It was their first time at a Broadway musical, and they absolutely loved it! I would recommend the show for kids ages ten and up as it does feature disturbing moments in a slave auction scene as well as a bit of violence and sexual innuendo.
Watching Newton’s lavish need for grace (he’s not joking when he refers to himself as a “wretch” in the hymn) and his on-stage transformation was nothing short of inspiring, fully explaining why the entire audience rose to their feet at the end of the show.
Even if you can’t make it to New York City soon, you can still find inspiration in Newton’s story:
The producers of Amazing Grace have put together a remarkable study guide that discusses the show, the history of John Newton and the transatlantic slave trade, as well as teaching your family about modern-day slavery.
Just click on the photo below to download your copy.
Come see for yourself!
Amazing Grace: The Musical is on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre through October 25th!
The team working on the show are giving Simple Homeschool readers an incredible special offer if you’d like to see it yourself: Use the offer code SOC1 to get 35% off tickets on Ticketmaster.com.
I don’t know about you, but as a parent I’m always on the lookout for media that combines entertainment with depth and meaning, and when I find something that fits the bill I love to support it and tell others.
Amazing Grace: The Musical would be an inspiring addition to a New York City trip if you are headed to the East Coast in the next month.
Look forward to having your heart touched!
Listen to Tony Award nominee Josh Young speak about his role as John Newton in Amazing Grace
“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” ~ John Newton