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: 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: 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: Joyful, Joyful

Posted on June 21, 2023

“Joyful, Joyful” is a hymn so classic that it sometimes feels cliche. Presbyterian clergyman Henry van Dyke wrote the text alongside the Ode to Joy, from the finale of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. But inside this familiar topic, set to a familiar tune, there is unexpected theological substance. It does not treat joy as mere happiness….

Hymn Guide: And Can It Be

Posted on June 7, 2023

Charles Wesley was an Anglican Priest and itinerant preacher who wrote around 6500 hymns in his life. One of the first and best was “And Can It Be.” Likely written shortly after his evangelical conversion in May 1738, it reflects a personal relationship with Jesus through the experience of spiritual rebirth. Charles published “And Can…

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: See the Conqueror (ft. an exclusive video with Jenny & Tyler!)

Posted on May 23, 2022

“See the Conqueror” is a wonderful hymn on the Ascension of Christ. It is not widely known, but we hope to make it more popular, with God’s help!  It was written by a 19th-century English bishop named Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1855), the nephew of poet William Wordsworth. Bishop Wordsworth authored many books, including The Holy Year, a book…