(CBS) — A new musical opening soon in Chicago before it heads to Broadway, tells the story behind one of the world’s best known songs, reports WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger.

It’s a song that’s resonated through the generations. The play about its composition is called “Amazing Grace.” The musical was conceived and co-authored by a relative novice to the theater, Christopher Smith, a former police officer who stumbled across the story of English slavetrader, John Newton, the man who wrote Amazing Grace.

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“I was actually wandering through a library and I picked a book off a shelf at random. It said ‘John Newton.’ I had no idea he had written ‘Amazing Grace,’” Smith said.

Smith became fascinated by Newton’s story.

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“My heart went out to him through all the things he went through. I mean, he’s going through battles and storms; he was enslaved in Africa. But, through it all, is this desire to really rise above his past and his failings.”

His co-author, Arthur Giron, a theater veteran, says Amazing Grace ultimately is a story of love and redemption.

“It shows hope and that you can change,” he said.

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“Amazing Grace” opens in previews on October 9 and has its world premiere on the 19 at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre.