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.

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: 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: 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…

Hymn Guide: Tell Out My Soul

Posted on August 14, 2023

Tell Out My Soul is an elegant and fun-to-sing paraphrase of Mary’s Song from Luke 1:46-55. Written in 1961 by Anglican Priest Timothy Dudley Smith, the hymn draws its title and opening line from the New English Bible published in the same year. The New English Bible was controversial for its use of contemporary idioms….

Hymn Guide: Be Still My Soul

Posted on July 8, 2023

Little is known about the life of Catharina von Schlegel, the 18th-century German author of “Be Still My Soul.” She was likely never married, which may have appealed to her unmarried translator, the 19th-century English hymn writer Jane Laurie Borthwick. Then there’s another striking similarity: Borthwick’s most famous hymn is “Come Labor On,” which, like…

Hymn Guide: St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Posted on June 3, 2023

St. Patrick’s Breastplate is one of the great hymns of the church, sung especially for Saint Patrick’s Day, on Trinity Sunday, and at baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations. It is an Old Irish prayer of protection called a lorica, and the text is attributed to St. Patrick or his followers in early Celtic monasticism. Literally, lorica is…

Hymn Guide: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Posted on November 24, 2022

A beloved hymn for Thanksgiving, “Come, ye thankful people, come” is also a fitting hymn for Advent. It presents a rare combination of thanks and of judgment, drawing singers into reverent awe before the Almighty. Anglican priest Henry Alford wrote the hymn in 1844 and published it under the heading, “After Harvest.” At the time…

Hymn Guide: The Storm Is Passing Over

Posted on August 3, 2020

This is the fourth in a series on sacred hymns, the story behind them, their text, a recording, and a simple companion devotional. “When the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea, thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me.” – Charles Albert Tindley Every Hymn Has a Story Charles Albert…

Hymn Guide: There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood

Posted on June 22, 2020

This is the third of a series on sacred hymns, the story behind them, their text, a recording, and a simple companion devotional. “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.” ~William Cowper Every Hymn Has a Story William Cowper was…