( Beyond the Sunset is translated below as Loojangu taga in Estonian)
The lyrics of Amazing Grace were written in 1772 by John Newton (1775 - 1807) a British slave ship captain turned Anglican clergyman, poet and supporter for anti-slavery. The hymn text of Amazing Grace was first published 1779 in Olney Hymns, the verses only without a title. It is probable that Hymns (defined as praises to God) were chanted rather than sung by Newton's church congregation. Some 56 years later William Walker a southern Baptist choir-leader raised in South Carolina published The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in 1835, which first paired Newton’s verses to New Britain, being the melody we recognize today as Amazing Grace. In Walker's time it was common for songwriters to borrow verses or music from old folk songs and he openly attested to adding treble and bass to this tune of unknown origin.
In 1852 Harriet Beech Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, an anti-slavery novel in which the character Tom sings two verses of John Newton's hymn text thereby leaving the reader to believe he sang the verses to the music of New Britain (Amazing Grace). Stowe's best selling novel of the 19th century is accredited for inciting the American Civil War of 1861-1865, a war which virtually ended slavery in the United States. She may also be responsible for setting in motion the urban legend that the origin of the theme came from the hold of an African slave ship on an Atlantic crossing where Newton heard it and poached it. Not so.
The text of Newton's hymn has been annexed to twenty different melodies and Amazing Grace has been recorded thousands of times. The Il Divo version recorded at Rome's Coliseum inspires exceptional awe. Elvis Presley (he pronounced it PRESS-ly) recorded Amazing Grace in 1971. Elvis had a deep love of Gospel music, and like Newton, Walker and Stowe he was deeply religious. Presley was nominated for 14 Grammys winning 3 for his gospel recordings - two for How Great Thou Art and one for He Touched Me. Gospel was his warm-up music before a concert and he continued with it afterwards into the wee hours of the morning. He said it eased his mind.
Another well-known Gospel hymn worth a mention is Beyond the Sunset written by ordained minister Virgil Brock, and his wife Blanche in 1936. It was written in one evening. On their gravesite stands a large monument with the sheet music and complete lyrics of Beyond the Sunset on it. In Estonian the vowel profusion adds a new level of tenderness to this haunting hymn.
Loojangu taga särab meil hommik. Taevane Päästja ootab meid ees. Möödas on maine päevadepõimik loojangu taga, kui päev on käes.
Loojangu taga pilvi ei ole, tormi ei tõuse, kadunud hirm. Oh, päev nii õnnis, oh, päev täis ilu! Loojangu taga möödas on surm.
Loojangu taga juhib üks käsi Jumala juurde rõõmusse mind. Austamast Teda iial ei väsi loojangu taga õnnelik rind.
Loojangu taga jälle võib näha lahkunud armsaid muredeööst. Iialgi enam lahku ei lähe, loojangu taga puhkame tööst.
Amazing Grace, Beyond the Sunset