In 1964 Keith Wilson, president of the College Band Directors National Association asked the composer for a work to be played at the organization's national convention. The premiere was by the USC band. "Amazing Grace" can be heard in the slow sections at the beginning and end of the piece. Copland said, "Curiously, the harmonies had been conceived without reference to the tune. It was only by chance perusal of an anthology of tunes that I realized a connection between my harmonies and "Amazing Grace!"
-Vivian Perlis, 1998