42 Astoundingly Useful Scripts and Automations for the Macintosh

Amazing Grace (Uncommon Melody)

Amazing Grace, by John Newton, with melody by C.H. Warwick. This was apparently once a common melody for the song but is rarely heard now.

Jerry Stratton, October 2, 2019

A lot of old songs were really poems set to music later. The melodies varied from place to place and person to person. This is a melody to Amazing Grace that I found in an old nineteenth-century hymnal, attributed to C.H. Warwick. It is nothing like the melody we use today and which I used to demonstrate the ‘piano’ script in 42 Astoundingly Useful Scripts and Automations for the Macintosh. I don’t think it’s just familiarity that makes the familiar melody better; Excell’s melody is unquestionably a more appropriate melody for a hymn, especially a hymn with the history of Amazing Grace. It is a more uplifting yet plaintive melody.

I find it difficult to even imagine using Warwick’s melody for the lyrics to Amazing Grace. It’s light, finger-tripping music. But it’s interesting to hear for its historical value. The Gospel Hymns series I found it in was very popular, which means this melody must have been used at many revivals and services across the United States in the nineteenth century.

# Warwick, C.H., p. 101, Gospel Hymns Combined
# Rev. John Newton/Samuel Stanley
--key D
# line 1

[- F   | 8 A F B G 4 F D  | 8 D A 4 G F A         |
         A A 8 A D C B               | 2 C 4 R - C]
[- - D | D D D - G        | A A D D               |
         C D E E                     | 2 A 4 R D ]

[- D   | D D D D          | + 8 F - D 4 C D D     |
         + E F E E                   | 2 E 4 R - D]
- D +  | 8 F B D B 4 A B  | 8 A F 4 E - D + F     |
         A 8 B 16 C D 8 C B A G+     | 2 A 4 R A

# line 2
       [- 8 G B B D 4 D A | A A A D               |
          8 D A A B 4 A A             | 2 A R]
       [- - D D D D       | C A D + F             |
            G 8 F G 4 A - A             | 2 D R]

       [- D + G F - D     | + E 2 - C 4 D         |
          8 D + E A G 4 F E          | 2 F R]
       8 B G D B 4 A F    | 8 G E A G 4 F A       |
               8 B C D E 4 D C            | 2 D R

Play it using something like:

  • ~/bin/piano "Warwick Amazing Grace.txt"

Or save it to a midi file using:

  • ~/bin/piano "Warwick Amazing Grace.txt" --save "Warwick Amazing Grace.midi"

Not having a sense of how the melody is meant to play out with the words, it was harder to choose an instrument in GarageBand for it. At smaller revivals it may well have been sung a cappella.

I decided for no real reason to double it in trumpet and piano. I decided not to break out the treble and bass clefs. As historically interesting as this melody is, it isn’t worth that minimal effort. Feel free to do it yourself, though—or to use the piano script to improve the melody. It’s a great way to play around with melodies, to investigate what works and what doesn’t.

There are fashions in music that go deeper than genre. Listening to these melodies from the 1800s is like listening to a different world.

Gospel Hymns Combined: A late nineteenth-century book of hymns for use at revival meetings and tent gatherings.; Hymns

From the 1800s, and a dime-a-dozen at flea markets and yard sales, this contains a huge number of interesting songs—some interesting for how they’ve changed over more than a hundred years.

  1. <- Amazing Grace
  2. America, the Beautiful ->