Hymn Guide: Lift High the Cross

Posted on July 8, 2024

“Lift High the Cross” is a hymn of missionary encouragement and spiritual victory. It sets forth the paradox of the cross: that an instrument of torture and death has become a symbol of triumph and life.

Good Shepherd Sunday: A Rookie Anglican Guide

Posted on April 19, 2024

On Good Shepherd Sunday, we both acknowledge that we are sheep who go astray and also glory in the good news that Jesus is our shepherd. Typical features of the day include a collect on the theme of the Good Shepherd and the reading or singing of Psalm 23 or Psalm 100. The gospel reading…

Hymn Guide: Be Thou My Vision

Posted on April 11, 2024

Did you know “Be Thou My Vision” was written by a blind monk? The text is traditionally attributed to Saint Dallán, a 6th-century Celtic monk who went blind in the middle of his life. Some modern scholars have argued for a later date in the 10th or 11th century. Either way, the text reflects the…

Hymn Guide: O Sacred Head

Posted on March 23, 2024

“O Sacred Head” is a deeply moving devotional hymn about the Passion of Christ. It explores and celebrates the paradox that Jesus’ suffering is both ugly, in its external form, and also beautiful, in its salvific love. The hymn is most fitting to be sung during Lent, Holy Week, the Stations of the Cross, alongside funerals,…

Hymn Guide: God Be Merciful To Me

Posted on February 29, 2024

“God be merciful to me” is a setting of Psalm 51, David’s great hymn of repentance, forgiveness, and faith. More than most hymns and worship songs, it sets forth the stark reality of human sin and turns to God as our only hope for salvation and spiritual renewal. Composed anonymously for the 1912 Psalter, it…

Hymn Guide: Once In Royal David’s City

Posted on December 23, 2023

The moment is magic. A hush descends as the Christmas Eve service is about to begin. And then a single child’s voice breaks the silence, singing: “Once in royal David’s city…” This tradition, first started at King’s College in its annual service of Lessons and Carols, has spread throughout the Anglican world and now to…

Hymn Guide: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Posted on October 27, 2023

“A Mighty Fortress” is a defiant hymn of faith in Christ in spite of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. First published in 1529, with lyrics and music by Martin Luther, the hymn quickly became the anthem of the Reformation, reflecting the evangelical appeal to the gospel of Christ even above the church’s authority….

Hymn Guide: All Creatures of our God and King

Posted on October 4, 2023

“All Creatures of our God and King” is a favorite hymn of praise that exhorts all creatures to join in the great Alleluia to God. Based on Saint Francis’ Canticle of the Sun written around 1225, it reflects Francis’ core idea that we humans are siblings with all other creatures because God created us all….

Hymn Guide: When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

Posted on September 13, 2023

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is one of the first hymns written in the English language; three hundred years later, it remains one of the finest. Isaac Watts composed and published the text in his groundbreaking 1707 work, Hymns & Spiritual Songs. Because of the emphasis on the cross, it is especially fitting for the…

My Songs Extol Thy Name: Thomas Sternhold and English Psalmody

Posted on August 23, 2023

Thomas Sternhold is the founder of English psalmody and the inventor of the metrical form at the base of English hymnody. Little known except in histories of church music, Sternhold’s contribution is now better understood, thanks to the pioneering work of scholar Beth Quitslund. Sternhold is commemorated on August 23, or at least he would…