Hymn 87
(tune: Amazing Grace)

Many people who know no more Cherokee than “hello” and “thank you” can sing along with at least one verse of Hymn 87 to the tune of Amazing Grace. I had to include this song on my CD.

The story of John Newton  (1725–1807), the slave ship owner who repented and became an Anglican pastor, writing the world-renown hymn Amazing Grace in 1779, is universally told, including in a 2006 box-office hit movie. 

While attending a “spirituality seminar” in Cherokee, NC years ago, a Cherokee pastor referred to Amazing Grace as a kind of unofficial Cherokee national anthem, not only sung in church but sometimes used to open meetings. Then, at a performance by Rita Coolidge (who performs with her sister and niece as Walela) during a Cherokee Festival, she sang this song. The entire audience stood and sang along (all 4 verses) while the lights were lowered and lightning from an approaching storm could be seen over the mountains. I was thankful I had learned it and could join in. It was a truly memorable experience.

While everyone knows this song as the Cherokee Amazing Grace, it is not a translation of John Newton’s lyrics. The Cherokee lyrics tell of Christ’s second coming, how He spoke when He rose to tell us that. In the last 2 verses, it tells how the world will end and the good will live forever in heaven, in peace.

Listen here to a 1 minute preview of this song: