Hymn Story: Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart

In 1898, Mrs. Lelia Morris was at a camp meeting in Mountain Lake Park, Maryland. When the invitation was called, a woman “of culture and refinement” responded to the invitation.  Leila Morris joined the lady, where she placed “an arm around her shoulder” and whispered, “Just now your doubting’s give o’er”. The song leader joined the two women and said […]

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Hymn Story: The Wonder of it All

George Beverly Shea’s deep baritone voice, set the mood during the Billy Graham crusades.  George Beverly Shea was born on February 1, 1909 in Winchester, Ontario, Canada.  He later said he gave his life to Christ at five years of age and rededicated his life at eighteen. His parents taught him to play the violin, piano and organ at a […]

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Song Story: Church in the Wildwood

This is one instance in which the cart came before the horse.  The area of Bradford, Iowa was first settled as the California Gold Rush was getting underway in the late 1840s.  William Pitts, was a music teacher, traveling from Wisconsin to Iowa to visit his future wife.  As the stagecoach horses were being changed, he began to wander around […]

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Hymn Story: What Wondrous Love is This

What Wondrous Love Is This began as an American folk hymn, which was passed down from one generation to another through the course of time. The origins and text of the song are not known and was probably refined over time, as being passed down. Folk songs usually consist of the repetition of key phrases, to assist in learning the […]

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Hymn Story: More Love to Thee

Elizabeth Prentiss, wife of a Presbyterian minister, spent much of her life as an invalid, “scarcely knowing a moment free of pain”.  She was described as friend as “a very bright-eyed little woman with a keen sense of humor, who cared more to shine in her own happy household than in a wide circle of society.” Elizabeth wrote this hymn […]

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Hymn Story: Jesus Loves Even Me

Philip Bliss attended a service where the hymn O How I Love Jesus was sung repeatedly. After the service, he remarked, “Have I not been singing enough about my poor love for Jesus and shall I not rather sing of His great love for me?” He sat down and quickly composed this hymn, which soon became a favorite of both […]

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Hymn Story: I’d Rather Have Jesus

George Beverly Shea is known for his strong, booming baritone voice. He ministered alongside Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows, often singing right before Rev. Graham stepped to the podium. One of his best known songs, was I’d Rather Have Jesus. Bev Shea had been singing since he was a young man in the Wesleyan Methodist churches were his father was […]

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Take the Name of Jesus with You

Lydia Baxter lived her life in bed as an invalid for the majority of her adult life. However, she is said to have had a “cheerful and patient” manner. She was born on September 2, 1800 to Jonathan and Mary Odell. Lydia and her sister are said to have been responsible for establishing the Baptist church in Petersburg, New York, […]

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Hymn Stories: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Helen Lemmel was a gift singer and musician, a gift her parents recognized while she was still young. She was born on November 14, 1864, in Wardle, England to a Methodist minister and his wife. When she was twelve years old, her family moved to the United States and settled in Wisconsin. Helen Howarth Lemmel, was given a tract, titled […]

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Hymn Stories: He Leadeth Me

Joseph Henry Gilmore was a seminary professor, Baptist minister, and author of several textbooks in Hebrew and English. However, he is best remembered today for his hymn He Leadeth Me. The year was 1862, and the Civil War was raging all around. Gilmore later wondered if God was leading him to focus on His {The Lord’s} leadership. He was invited […]

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Eternal Father, Strong to Save

Last month, at the funeral of President George H. W. Bush, the hymn Eternal Father, Strong to Save was sung. This was a song I recognized from the last line of the first verse. The title I was familiar with was For Those in Peril on the Sea. My familiarity with the hymn under this title, came from the hymns connection […]

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Behind the Christmas Carol: Carol of the Bells

Carol of the Bells is another popular Christmas Carol, but actually began as a New Year’s song. The song was composed by  Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914.  He was approached by the Conductor of the Ukrainian Republic Choir Oleksander Koshyts to create a song based on traditional Ukranian folk chants. The original folk song was written in a pre-Christian […]

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Behind the Christmas Carol: I Saw Three Ships

I Saw Three Ships is a traditional English folk song. The song was written by wandering minstrels as they traveled throughout the country during the middle ages. “In the original version of the carol, the Three Ships were the ones taking the supposed skulls of the wise men to Cologne cathedral in Germany.” Over the course of time the lyrics, […]

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Behind the Christmas Carol: The Coventry Carol

The Coventry Carol is an English Christmas Carol that dates back to the 16th century. The carol was traditionally performed in Coventry as part of the mystery play The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors in England.  The play depicts the Christmas story found in the Gospel of Matthew. “The carol is the second of three songs included in the […]

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Behind the Hymn: Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God is translated from the German hymn “Nun danket alle Gott”.  The German hymn was written by Martin Rinkart in 1636. Rinkart was a Lutheran Minister and accomplished musician.  At the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War he came to the city of Eilenburg, Saxony, which was a walled city.  The city served as a […]

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Behind the Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus

Fairest Lord Jesus is a song of mystery. The author and origin of the song are unknown. The song seems to have originated as a folk song in Germany and other areas of Europe. Some historians believe the song may even date back to the 12th Century when it was sung by the German crusaders as the made their long, […]

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