Tennessee Wants to Make Dolly Parton’s Rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ the State Hymn
By Movieguide® Staff
“Amazing grace/How sweet the sound/That saved a wretch like me …”
Those words can soften the hardest of hearts as we reflect on what God’s done for us. For lawmakers in Tennessee, that choral goodness is enough to be celebrated statewide as a state song, especially when it’s sung by Pigeon Forge native Dolly Parton.
“BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE: … ‘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,” according to the bill.
The bill also honors the writer, John Newton, for his abolition work.
The bill states:
WHEREAS, it is fitting that this General Assembly should recognize songs of historic significance that have influenced this State; and
WHEREAS, John Newton struggled against the temptation of profits earned by merchants and slavers and uncertainty as to his religious belief during the first two decades of his life; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Newton’s life, rife with “dangers, toils and snares,” frequently made him feel as though he had been miraculously spared, despite his struggles; and
WHEREAS, he experienced a spiritual conversion after his ship was caught in a severe storm in 1748; he began reading the Bible and other religious literature during the remainder of his return journey to England; and
WHEREAS, he worked over the next sixteen years to become ordained as a priest with the church and was finally successful in 1764; and
WHEREAS, he became well-known both for his pastoral care and beliefs, and was offered the parish in Olney, England; and
WHEREAS, during his first year serving in Olney, he wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace,” which became one of the most celebrated songs in modern history; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Newton’s conversion from a merchant and slaver to a man of faith led him to speak out against slavery, and although many of England’s large port cities greatly benefited from the slave trade, Mr. Newton and other social critics began to speak out against the practice; and
WHEREAS, by the 1780s, William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament and the nephew of one of Newton’s friends in London, added his voice to this critique; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Wilberforce was inspired by and felt that his own conversion paralleled Mr. Newton’s, and upon Mr. Newton’s encouragement used his money and influence to support abolition of the slave trade; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Newton continued to support the abolishment of slavery until it was finally passed by the House of Commons in 1804; and
WHEREAS, he spent the remainder of his life as a priest in Olney, working to help others find a deeper understanding and love through their faith.
The bill states that the song has been recorded by many musical legends with strong ties to Tennessee, including 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
Parton released her rendition of “Amazing Grace” on her 1999 album “Precious Memories.”
The Tennessee State Legislature has yet to vote on the bill.
Parton will be featured in MOVIEGUIDE®’S MOVIES THAT INSPIRE program set to air on the REELZ channel on Easter Sunday, April 4.
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