The song was written by one John Newton, an 18th century English slave trader who had a religious conversion and rejected his former trade. In Beyond the Hebrides, edited by Donald Fergusson, it is stated: "Since the melody is that of a bag-pipe tune and is a gapped-scale melody with a distinctly modal, plain-song character, it is very probably that Newton's composition was to an old Scottish melody. If not, early settlers may have adapted the lyrics to an old Scottish melody they brought with them." The words to "Amazing Grace" can be found in Olney Hymns (1779), a collection of Newton's hymns made in collaboration with William Cowper, however, the work contains no music and no tune direction was given. The tune is attributed to J. Carrell and D. Clayton in the American shape-note publication Virginia Harmony, c. 1831. It has also been suggested the original title for the tune was "New Britain."