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Heaven's Music: Amazing Grace

An excursion to the Grand Canyon inspired her to sing an unlikely duet with a man from across the sea.

By Nancy Dishner, Jonesborough, Tennessee

As appeared in

It was a brisk, late autumn day when a group of us hiked Mather Point in the Grand Canyon. My fellow travelers had been patient with me, stopping every so often so I could catch my breath.

“Go on ahead,” I said when we reached the observation point. “I’ll wait here till you pick me up on the way back.”

I found a rock to sit on while I waited. I was sorry to be looking out at the breathtaking landscape with no one to share it with. Well, no one I knew, at least.

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A bus had pulled up and dozens of Japanese tourists filed out. Last was an elderly man. I moved over on my rock to make room for him to sit beside me.

I wanted to tell him how honored I was to witness God’s work, but we had no language in common. Just then he began singing in a low, gentle voice.

The words were in Japanese, but I recognized the tune: "Amazing Grace." I joined him in English. He motioned for us to stand up. The Japanese tourist and I finished the song on our feet, our arms locked, appreciating one of God’s greatest wonders, together.

Turns out we had plenty of languages in common, like the language of music–and of faith.

Listen to "Amazing Grace" sung in Japanese.

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