Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: Then Sings My Soul

Then Sings My Soul. Robert J. Morgan. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages.

Chances are that if you are a Christian, you have a favorite hymn or two. But do you know the story behind your favorite hymns? In Then Sings My Soul, Robert J. Morgan shares with readers the stories behind 150 hymns. The first 63 pages of this one are devoted to Christmas hymns and carols. Forty-four pages are dedicated to Easter songs. Seventeen pages are focused on hymns of Thanksgiving. Ten pages highlight patriotic songs. The remaining pages are designated "Other Favorites."

Each hymn has a two-page spread. One page containing the words and music, the second page presenting the story focusing on either the songwriter, the composer, or the song itself. In some cases, a bit of all three! Readers are given the opportunity to learn about Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts,  Robert Lowry, Fanny Crosby, Philip Bliss, etc. By reading the book as a whole, readers also learn a little about the history of worship music in the church through the centuries. The book is diverse, I feel, it includes hymns written by men and women; hymns written by Protestants and Catholics; hymns written in many different countries at different times.

I Will Sing Of My Redeemer
As a ten-year old boy, when Philip Paul Bliss heard the sounds of a piano for the first time, his imagination was deeply stirred. Later, riding his horse Old Fanny, he became a traveling musician. In 1870, he joined the staff of a Chicago church as music director and Sunday School superintendent. In March 1874, he became the song leader and children's director for the evangelistic campaigns of Major Daniel W. Whittle. All the while, Philip was penning some of America's favorite gospel songs.
By the end of 1876, Philip needed a break. He had just written the music to "It Is Well With My Soul" and finished a whirlwind tour of meetings with Major Whittle. While he and his wife, Lucy, were spending the Christmas holidays with his family in Pennsylvania, a telegram arrived requesting they come to Chicago to sing at Moody's Tabernacle on the last Sunday of the year. On December 29, 1876, leaving their two small children with Philip's mother, they boarded the Pacific Express. The snow was blinding, and the eleven-coach train was running about three hours late. About eight o'clock that night as the train creaked over a chasm near Ashtabula, Ohio, the trestle bridge collapsed. The engine reached solid ground on the other side of the bridge, but the other cars plunged seventy-five feet into the ravine. Philip survived the crash and crawled out through a window. But within moments, fire broke out, and Lucy was still inside, pinned under the twisted metal of the iron seats. The other survivors urged Philip not to crawl back into the flaming wreckage. "If I cannot save her, I will perish with her," he shouted, plunging into the fiery car. Both Philip and Lucy died. He was thirty-eight. Philip's trunk finally arrived in Chicago safely. In it were found the words to the last hymns he had written, one of which was:
I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.
Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
I definitely enjoyed reading this one! The entries are great devotionals, in my opinion. And the stories are at times quite fascinating.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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