The version of "Amazing Grace" sung by Christian country singer Dolly Parton may just become the official state hymn of Tennessee, Church Leaders reports. Two lawmakers introduced a house bill in Tennessee's state legislature that would make the song the official song of the state. The purpose, according to the bill, is to " recognize songs of historic significance that have influenced" the state of Tennessee.
The bill states:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 4-1-302, is amended by adding the following as a new subdivision:
( ) "Amazing Grace" by John Newton, and as sung by Dolly Parton, as the official hymn of the state of Tennessee;
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.”
Though the song was written by an English pastor who was formerly a slave trader until he realized how wrong it was to do such things after he became a Christian, the bill states the song was chosen because, in addition to commemorating the life of John Newman and solidifying the cause he fought for, "'Amazing Grace' has since been recorded by various artists with strong connections to Tennessee, including Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Spirit of Memphis Quartet, the Fairfield Four, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, the Oak Ridge Boys, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks."
John Newton fought for the abolition of slavery and played a part in it being outlawed in the English House of Commons in 1804. He wrote the song because he was haunted by the ghosts of the slaves he had sold before he realized how horrible his trade was. When asked about his former profession, Newton responded, "It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders." This response came around the time he published "Thoughts Upon The African Slave Trade," where he revealed the horrors of slave trading.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Terry Wyatt/Stringer
John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.