Category: Hymns

Shining as the Sun

image of "Shining as the Sun" sculpture

It’s finished! Back in September, I shared a new work in progress. You can read that post here. I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished the piece, Shining as the Sun.

As I wrote last month, this is the first in a series of sculptures inspired by the verses of “Amazing Grace,” the beloved 1779 hymn by John Newton. However, I’m starting at the end because I’ve always loved the imagery of what we know as the last verse of the hymn:

“When we’ve been there
ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days
to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.”

But that verse was not written by John Newton. It was first recorded in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The verse was originally one of between 50 and 70 verses of a song titled “Jerusalem, My Happy Home,” which was published in a 1790 book called A Collection of Sacred Ballads.

Today, though, it’s sung as the closing verse of the hymn in congregations all over the world.

Detail from Shining as the Sun

I’ll be doing a very limited, yet-to-be-determined number of these sculptures. This first in the series is now available. Visit the shop to learn more.

Now I’ll move to the beginning and work my way through the hymn. First up will be the most well-known verse:
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

I’ll share the process with you as I go along and we’ll see how it takes shape together.

Thanks for reading Inspiring Handmade! If you know someone who would enjoy a little inspiration about once a week, please share this link or the email with them.

As always, you can drop us a line in the box below and share your thoughts.

New series inspired by “Amazing Grace!” in the works

Salvaged wood sculpture by Stephen in progress.

This fall I’m excited to return to a project that I began, and put on hold, last year. I’m working on a series of sculptures based on Amazing Grace!. Once complete, there will be a sculpture for each of the six verses of the 1779 hymn by John Newton, plus the verse from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is described below. Probably the most well-known and beloved hymn in all of Christendom, Amazing Grace! is about being salvaged or saved.

Amazing Grace! (Original words)

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779

Olney Hymnal with "Amazing Grace!"

The bottom of page 53 of Olney Hymns shows the first stanza of the hymn beginning “Amazing Grace!”

The final verse of the modern version of the hymn was not written by Newton, but was first recorded in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The verse was originally one of between 50 and 70 verses of a song titled Jerusalem, My Happy Home, which was published in a 1790 book called A Collection of Sacred Ballads.

When we’ve been there
ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days
to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.

There’s nothing like starting at the end. To me, that last verse has some of the most vivid imagery of the hymn, so I started there. The sculpture is pictured in progress here and, once it’s complete, will illustrate the final verse of the song as it is usually sung today.

Like all my sculptures, this piece is being created from salvaged wood that would have been tossed into the trash or used as kindling wood for a fire. As I work on these pieces, I realize that I’m much like this wood and the as I’ve saved it from the trash heap or the fire, I’m blessed to remember that God has saved me from a similar doom. I can sing with Newton, and the countless men and women of faith throughout the centuries, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see.

As the rest of pieces progress, I’ll post some more studio pictures along the way.  I don’t know yet how many sculptures I’ll make of each verse—I may only make one or two full collections. Stay tuned!

While you’re here, why not subscribe to Inspiring Handmade so you’ll never miss out on new art or articles. You’ll receive an email when we post new work on this site. We don’t spam or share your address with anyone else. Just click the orange button below and sign up today.

Shining Like The Sun in progress…