"There is always something special about origins. Isaac Watts began early while still a student with:
Behold the glories of the Lamb
Amidst his Father's throne;
Prepare new honours for his name,
And songs before unknown.
We have (with only a shade or two of doubt) the hymn that Charles Wesley sat down to write , broke off ‘for fear of pride’ and then continued, and which was sung in company with his brother John, after their individual conversion experiences in May 1738. Charles wrote:
Where shall my wondering soul begin?
How shall I all to heaven aspire?
A slave redeemed from death and sin,
A brand plucked from eternal fire,
How shall I equal triumphs raise,
And sing my great Deliverer's praise!
And in this accompanying text we have one of the first - or at least the first known to us - of the hymns by John Newton, still so widely sung today, and which make up the larger part of the Olney Hymns. The version in that book contains slight revisions, no doubt by the author's hand; but the testimony to experience remains the same, as indeed it does in ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound’ and ‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds / In a believer's ear’. There is something touching, too, in the connection with John Newton's wife's love of opera - that here, in his first published hymn, he should have chosen to write to one of her favourite arias carries its own message of human affection and unity in Christ."