Amazing Grace in America

Our Spiritual National Anthem

by Mary Rourke and Emily Gwathmey


In times of great joy, in times of deep sorrow, in times when we all want the simple yet profound comfort of a guiding light, the strains of "Amazing Grace" echo through our halls and in our hearts. For many people "Amazing Grace," America's favorite hymn, is the one song that conjures images of a nurturing hand reaching out to bring peace. "Amazing Grace" is a gift to all people -- a gift of love and of hope.

But what is grace? asks author Mary Rourke in Amazing Grace in America Our Spiritual National Anthem. And how has a deeply personal hymn gained the power to unite a nation? Why does it signify a spiritual foundation for all of us?

Rourke, spirituality and religion writer for the Los Angeles Times, addresses these questions and more as she traces the history of the hymn and the meaning of grace in these United States. In Amazing Grace in America, Rourke finds the spiritual link in the lives of the renowned and the private, the devout and the unobservant -- all people whose lives have been affected by grace in many forms. Chuck Colson, Marianne Williamson, Magic Johnson have all experienced the impact of an amazing grace "that saved a wretch like me" --- Rourke shares their stories. She also tells the dramatic story of John Newton, the self-proclaimed sinner who became an Anglican priest and penned the autobiographical words to "Amazing Grace."

Newton was honest about himself, and perhaps that is what touches the souls of the people who hear his words today. They too are longing to be honest -- and to be graced. We sing "Amazing Grace" and we feel reassured that all will be well. With vintage art that captures the classic faces of America, collected by Emily Gwathmey, Amazing Grace in America shows us that even if factors are beyond our control, grace will find us if we are open to it.

  • 128 pages
  • duotone
  • 101 photographs and illustrations
  • 8.5x11"
  • hardcover: ISBN 1-883318-30-0: $26.95
$26.95 USD