Hymn-Theology: I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found


“I once was lost but now I’m found.

Was blind, but now I see.”

“Amazing Grace”

John Newton  (1779)

I first heard an a capella version of “Amazing Grace” by Meryl Streep at the end of the movie Silkwood (1983). I fell in love with it. I don’t know why.  I imagine the lyrics touched my soul in a way I couldn’t yet understand, not having converted to Christianity; besides which I was just a child.

I’m not sure why I waited this long to cover this song in the Hymn-Theology series, perhaps because the lyrics resonate with my testimony.  2013 marks my twenty-first year as a Christian and it is hard to believe that God has brought me so far from what was my statistical fate.

Pastor Steve Mays from Calvary Chapel South Bay uploaded a Sermon today where he talked about the role of the father.

“The word Father actually in the Greek means four words: nourish, provider, protector, upholder.”  Steve Mays

It’s very difficult to be raised without a father and, many times, those effects upon our lives aren’t realized until adulthood. And we often make the mistake of transferring our bad experiences with our earthly fathers into our Christian experience.

However, the Heavenly Father is our defender and provider.  In our rebellion, we run from him like the Prodigal Son, often despising Him.  His grace becomes apparent when we return; he gives us all He has.

In fact, it says that we are already blessed.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

The first stanza of Amazing Grace says it is a sweet sound that saved an undeserving person like myself. Often we want to be deserving. This is a race without an end. It is impossible for us to earn salvation.  That is why it is defined as grace.

In fact it is the recognition of our sinful state that causes us to love him even more and that act is pleasing to God.

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. Luke 7:47

Upon the Prodigal’s return he is met by the Father with affection.  He gave his lost son shoes for his feet, a ring for his finger, a robe to clothe him, and a feast to welcome him home.  Meanwhile, his older brother is jealous of this “undeserved affection” but the Father explains it to him simply.

And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ Luke 15:31-32

As John Newton wrote:

I once was lost but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.


For Thought & Discussion:

  • What are your thoughts about this stanza?
  • Can you think of any other hymns or songs with similar themes?
  • What emotions come to mind when you sing this song?  Do these verses change that?
  • Further Study:  I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.:
  • Are there any other verses that back up this hymn theologically?
  • Have you used this song lately?  Have you explained it?
  • Here in this 2009 video, I play Amazing Grace on my Timberline Guitar.
  • Wikipedia Entry

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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