Amazing Grace 250 – The Countdown Begins

All eyes are set to be on Olney in 2023, when the town will be at the centre of commemorations to mark the 250th anniversary of one of the world’s most beloved hymns, ‘Amazing Grace’.

Composed by the Reverend John Newton in the weeks leading up to his New Year’s Day service at St Peter & St Paul Church on 1st January 1773, the hymn – in various different musical styles – has gone on to inspire countless people and has even become known in America as the nation’s “spiritual anthem”.


What’s Happening in 2020?

Amazing Grace in Lockdown

It is almost 250 years since the Reverend John Newton composed ‘Amazing Grace’ in Olney, but the hymn has lost none of its power to comfort, move and inspire – particularly in times such as these.

Judy Collins To Re-Release Her Historic Recording Of “Amazing Grace” Joined By A Choir Of Singers Across The Globe – Out May 29

All Proceeds Go To The Covid-19 World Health Organization Solidarity Response Fund

New Technology – Global Virtual Choir – Brings Together Professional And Amateur Singers From All Over The World In Global Solidarity

All Are Welcome To Participate Via Globalvirtualchoir.Com

How does The Global Virtual Choir work?

Between May 14 and May 22, 2020 – amateur and professional singers around the world are invited to visit a bespoke site; where they can chose to learn part A or part B of the song. Use the hashtag #JudyCollinsChoir

Once confident, users record their videos of themselves performing their chosen part along with a guide and backing track of “Amazing Grace” via the website and submit.

Their voice recording will form part of The Global Virtual Choir and the new version of the single which will be available to stream and download from all digital service providers on May 29th. The users submitted video will also form part of a 3D Visualiser Video.


Calling all amazing Graces!

Is your name Grace, or do you know a Grace living in Olney or the surrounding area? If so, the organisers of the upcoming commemorations to mark the 250th anniversary of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ would like to hear from you!
The Amazing Grace 250 team are calling on the local community to help celebrate the history and ongoing power of the Reverend John Newton’s famous song – composed in the weeks leading up to his New Year’s Day service at St Peter & St Paul Church on 1st January 1773 – in as many imaginative ways as possible.
As part of the plans, the Cowper & Newton Museum has joined with the Phonebox to tell the stories of some real-life Graces. If you are a Grace, and would like to be involved, send an email to with a photo and short (50-word) description of yourself.
A group of Graces will be invited along to tea at the museum later this year – with the Phonebox also coming along to take photos and hear about the Graces’ lives .
The same email address can be used by anyone who has an idea of their own for commemorating the anniversary – even if your name isn’t Grace!



We are delighted to share our first Grace with eveyone from Kieran and Stephen Gould.

‘Our cousin, Grace Finn, defied all the odds when she was born in Boston in July 2018. Her mum, Jessica, had a very rare complication with a molar pregnancy in the womb alongside the healthy baby. The pregnancy was extremely high-risk for both Jessica and Grace and for that reason her parents called her “Amazing Grace” upon her arrival. We sent gifts to our cousin from the Cowper and Newton Museum to explain our town’s connection with Amazing Grace. In July 2019 we travelled to Boston and spent the 4th of July with our American cousins including Grace who is truly amazing.’





Join the Commemoration

On 1st January this year an Amazing Grace 250 online calendar was launched on the Visit Olney website.  There you will be able to check out the events already added & register your own event.


Share the Music

The Cowper & Newton Museum is also sharing your favourite covers or your own version of the hymn.  Tag us in via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – or use #AmazingGrace250.


If you have an idea for Amazing Grace 250, or would like to offer support for the anniversary preparations, please email the event team by using our dedicated email


Find out more about the history of Amazing Grace and how it came to be written in Olney on our Amazing Grace page