Invisible Folk are producing a programme called Grace will lead me home in partnership with the Cowper and Newton Museum and Arts Council England to mark the 250th anniversary of the writing of Amazing Grace. Here is Jon Bickley and the Invisible Folk Club Band, filmed at St.Peter's in Sharnbrook by Matt Fleming and Eleanor Chownsmith.
The man in the frame is John Newton and late in 1772 he wrote the words for Amazing Grace. It was the hymn for the sermon he gave on New Year's Day 1773 at St.Peter and St.Paul's in Olney. He wrote a lot of hymns while he was Curate in Charge there and with contributions by his friend the poet William Cowper created The Olney Hymns, a collection that became very popular, very quickly. The tune that we associate with Amazing Grace was added later in America.
To mark the 250th anniversary of the writing of Amazing grace I wrote some music for some of the Olney Hymns and recorded them with Diana Stone, David Gunawardana, Alan Garmonsway, Annette Burrows and Bob Templeman under the name of The Invisible Folk Club Band.
This album is now available on all streaming services and as a CD.
We played at the Cowper and Newton Museum on Saturday 27th August 2022.
We hope to be playing there again next year as part of a bigger event
Invisible Folk will create a series of podcasts examining different aspects of Amazing Grace and John Newton's life. In the picture I am interviewing Tom Jones at the Cowper and Newton Museum about the life of John Newton. We have also been talking to Jim Walvin, Marylynn Rouse, Martin Clarke and Judy Collins. (The guy at the back is Steve Yarwood, producer of The Invisible Folk Club and life support system of the whole enterprise.)
Newton led an interesting life. In his youth he was a sailor and became the captain of a slave trading ship. Later in his life he and Cowper were campaigning abolitionists. In this they reflected their times in England. Some of these issues are difficult for us to understand today. We hope that our podcast series can provide some information and maybe a little understanding.
photo at the top of the page - Jon Bickley.
Photos taken in the Courtyard of the Cowper and Newton Museum - Chris Madeley
Photos taken in St.Peter's Sharnbrook below - Matt Fleming