A Piper’s Perspective on "Amazing Grace"
By Scott Cawthon
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
So goes the beginning lyrics to one of the most beloved songs in Christendom - “Amazing Grace.” I am sure when John Newton first penned this beautiful hymn, he had no idea just how inspirational and influential his song would become. It has ministered to countless souls throughout the centuries and the world to this present day.
This remarkably simple melody with powerful lyrics has been played and sung on many instruments and at many occasions, but nothing seems to have a more profound influence on the soul than hearing “Amazing Grace” played on the Great Highland Bagpipe.
I should know. You see, I have been playing the bagpipes for over 40 years and have had the honor of playing this tune on numerous occasions. I have personally witnessed the impact of this song time and time again.
Through all the different venues that I have piped at, I have found “Amazing Grace” to be the most requested song to play. Obviously the greatest impact and emotion of the song is evidenced at funerals. Many times I have seen someone stirred to tears, and I am often moved to pray for them while playing.
It is a very sad occasion indeed when asked to play at a funeral where the bereaved eyes are closed to the hope we have in Christ Jesus. They must experience an ominous separation because of the unrestrained grief they display. Yet if they would hear the pipes, they would hear that hope is not gone! It shines most brightly during the darkest times. Experiences like this are the motivation behind songs like my “Military Tribute” medley arranged to contrast despair and hope.
When I have performed “Amazing Grace” at more casual and joyous occasions, I get a variety of responses. I have seen people cry with tears of joy and proclamations of praise and gratitude to the Lord upon hearing and singing the song. Many people have shared how “Amazing Grace” brings memories of their loved ones because the song was or is a favorite of their loved one. At other times, people join in with singing the song with me.
Performing “Amazing Grace” on my bagpipes has been a satisfying and rewarding experience for me. It gives me an opportunity to play and pray for others. Through modern technology I have been able to share this beautiful hymn with those throughout the world – from the soldier in Iraq, to the son burying his father in England, to the journalist on the east coast doing a memorial. What an awesome God we serve who has been able to use this song and instrument of old and use them together to communicate “new life” to all!
Professionally Scott Cawthon has played at weddings, parties, school assemblies, retirement dinners, funerals, and other social functions. Studying under Scotland's leading pipers Capt. John MacLellan, Bagpipe Major John MacKenzie and John MacFaydern, has earned him distinction in the field. He is the sole artisan of Weavers of the Tartan, a piping group that blends Celtic and Scottish genres and founder of Caber Records.
Listen to Scott's version of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes
CBN.com's Amazing Grace Special Section
Amazing Grace Official Movie Site
Used by permission.
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