President Obama Sings 'Amazing Grace' at Slain Charleston Pastor's Funeral

by Meredith B. Kile 5:02 PM PDT, June 26, 2015
Photo: C-SPAN

President Barack Obama delivered a touching eulogy for slain South Carolina State Senator Reverend Clementa Pinckney on Friday, and surprised the crowd by breaking into an emotional rendition of "Amazing Grace."

Pinckney, who was one of nine churchgoers killed last week when a 21-year-old man opened fire during bible study at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, was an early supporter of Obama’s 2008 presidential bid. The president was joined by wife Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, high-ranking members of Congress, and Hillary Clinton at Pinckney’s memorial service at TD Arena in downtown Charleston.

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At the end of his eulogy, Obama dwelled on the phrase "amazing grace," repeating it several times before breaking into the first verse of the famous hymn. The crowd was stunned at first, but soon raised to their feet and joined the president in song, as the organist accompanied the impromptu, emotional performance.

Obama concluded his speech by naming each of the victims, stating that each of them had "found that grace."

"Through the example of their lives, they’ve not passed it on to us," the president stated. "May we find ourselves worthy of that precious and extraordinary gift as long as our lives endure. May grace now lead them home."

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