Written in Olney
sung around the world

1st January 2023

Page from the first edition of the Olney Hymns hymn book showing the first verse of Faith's Review and Expectation now known by its first line as Amazing Grace

All eyes are set to be on Olney from July 2022 to July 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”.

President Obama & Amazing Grace (2015)

A part of the reason I think that it somehow met the moment was because not only is it a beautiful song, but it also captures this unifying element in America represented in its music.  You’ve got an old-world English hymn that has been used by everybody, in every church, all across this country. White churches, Black churches, the Black gospel tradition has transformed it. And it spoke then to the fact that underneath even a tragedy like this, there’s something that is there for all of us. Something that we share.

The New Year’s Day 2023 service at the Rev’d John Newton’s parish church of St. Peter & St Paul, Olney was held to mark the 250th anniversary of the writing of the hymn Amazing Grace.

You are able to find out more about the service itself, including a programme of the order of service, in this article: www.cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk/amazing-grace-250-january-1st-2023

Amazing Grace 250 is a yearlong programme of exhibitions, talks, walks and cultural and community events led by the Cowper & Newton Museum and in collaboration with the Open University, Friends of the Caribbean, Stables music venue, African Diaspora Foundation, African and Caribbean Arts & Heritage Union, Milton Keynes Sierra Leone Community and the parish church of St Peter & St Paul, Olney. 

It's time to say a big 'Thank You'..

..to our partners and supporters who have helped make these historic commemorations possible.

Amazing Grace 250 (AG250) is a Partnership Project and Programme supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and MK Council and developed by the AG250 partners.

The AG250 partners are:

Our Engagement partners are:


Useful Links

Join the Commemoration

Are you a choir, musician  or Church who has recorded yourself singing or playing Amazing Grace?  If so, why not tag us in on Facebook @AmazingGrace250 or #AmazingGrace250 to become part of the Amazing Grace 250th Anniversary virtual collection.  Drop on over to check out everyone who has joined in so far …

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

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Our Museum building remains CLOSED.  We are opening our gardens on limited entry.  The Cowper & Newton Museum gardens will be open to welcome you on Wednesday 5th August 10.30 – 12.15 and Saturday 8th August 10.30 – 12.15

(Follow our social media accounts or check back here for further opening days & times as they become available)