Mahalia Jackson

The popularity of ‘Amazing Grace’ owes much to its melody

Type ‘Amazing Grace’ into YouTube and you can cancel any other plans you might have had for the day. Page after page serves up everything from Elvis Presley to Pavarotti, Gospel choirs and winsome Celtic lovelies, folkies in fabulous knitwear and X Factor finalists strenuously proclaiming their surgically enhanced faith; even an American president. There are arrangements for electric guitar, steelpan orchestra, bagpipes or (God help us) beginner flute ensemble. Saved from the storm, Newton was aware of ‘a sense of the amazing grace that snatched me from ruin’ All of which suggests that James Walvin’s Amazing Grace is a book landing in fertile soil. This is a song that’s