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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Behind the Hymn: One Day

One Day was written by John Wilbur Chapman. Chapman was born on June 17, 1859 and came to understand salvation from D. L. Moody. Moody later encouraged him to enter full-time evangelism. Chapman was elected Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1918 and considered a leader among the American Presbyterians. Charles Howard Marsh was a student of Dr. Chapman. […]

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Behind the Hymn: Living for Jesus

Despite his lack of formal education, Thomas Obadiah Chisholm became a teacher at the age of sixteen. By the age of twenty-one, he was associate editor for his hometown newspaper Franklin Advocate. He became a Christian in 1893, due to the ministry of Henry Clay Morrison, who founded Asbury College and Seminary in Kentucky. While ordained into the ministry, he […]

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Behind the Hymn: He Hideth My Soul

He Hideth My Soul was written by Fanny Crosby, a popular hymn writer. He Hideth My Soul may have been Crosby’s prayer throughout her life. While a renowned songwriter, her life was not easy. As an infant, Fanny Crosby lost her eyesight due to fever and poor ministrations in her care. She lived the rest of her life blind, but […]

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Behind the Hymn: God Be With You

Dr. Jeremiah Rankin was the Pastor of First Congregational Church in Washington, D. C. He was looking for a farewell hymn to close the worship service. Nothing really worked and the closest possibility was Bless Be the Tie that Binds. But, Dr. Rankin wanted something less formal and more engaging. Unable to find the hymn he wanted, he decided to […]

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Behind the Hymn: Be Still My Soul

Be Still, My Soul was a favorite of Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame. As he lay dying, this was the last song he requested. Katharina von Schlegel wrote the original lyrics in German. She was born in 1697. Little is known about her other than she was connected with a small court at Köthen, north of Halle, in […]

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Behind the Hymn: We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes

We’ll Work till Jesus Comes was written by Elizabeth K. Mills. The song was originally published in 1829, under “Anonymous”. Some historians believe the song may be an American folk song. However, other books since then have attributed the song to Mrs. Mills. Elizabeth Mills was born in 1805 in Middlesex, England. She was the daughter of Philip King. She […]

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Behind the Hymn: Softly and Tenderly

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling was written by William Lamartine Thompson. Softly and Tenderly is one of his best known compositions, alongside Jesus is All the World to Me. Softly and Tenderly first appeared in a collection of songs, Sparkling Gems, Nos 1 and 2, by Thompson’s company in 1880. “UM Hymnal editor, the Rev. Carlton R. Young, notes: […]

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Behind the Hymn: Jesus is All the World to Me

  Jesus is all the world to me was written by Will Lamartine Thompson. William Lamartine Thompson was born on November 7, 1847 in East Liverpool, Ohio. He was the youngest of seven children born to Josiah and Sarah Jackman Thompson. Thompson was composing songs by the time he was a teenager, including “My Home on the Old Ohio” and […]

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Behind the Hymn: Take my life and let it be

Francis Havergal grew up the youngest child of a Church of England minister and hymn writer. She was born around Christmas 1836. She led an active life, even while dealing with fragile health. From a young age she would memorize vast portions of the Bible. She is described as a brilliant pianists and said to have such a lovely voice, […]

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Song Story: Lead Me, Guide Me

  Lead Me,Guide Me was written by Doris Akers. Doris Mae Akers was born on May 21, 1923 in Brookfield, Missouri. She was one of ten children born to Floyd and Pearl Akers. In the 1930s, she and some of her siblings had a group known as “Dot and The Swingsters”. In 1948, she formed the Simmons-Akers trio with Dorothy […]

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Hymn Story: Sitting At the Feet of Jesus

Sitting at the Feet of Jesus, tells the story of Mary, sitting and listening at Jesus feet. Can you imagine the lessons and wisdom she learned from the Lord? The account is found in Luke 10:40 and this Mary is the sister of Martha and Lazarus. If you recall the story, you will remember that Martha was upset because her […]

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Hymn Story: Lift High the Cross

Lift High the Cross was written by George Kitchin in 1887. At the time he wrote the song, Kitchin was the Dean of Winchester for the Church of England. “It has been suggested that the hymn was inspired by the story of Constantine the Great’s conversion to Christianity after seeing a cross with “In hoc signo vinces” on it. It […]

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Behind the Hymn: Let Others See Jesus In You

I had a request for the song history on “Let Others See Jesus in You”. The gentleman shared a special memory of his grandmother. “Her personal favorite was “Let Others See Jesus in You.” We sang the song at her funeral. Indeed, Jesus was visibly evident in her life. I suppose that is the primary reason the song means so […]

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Behind the Song: Reach Out to Jesus

Reach Out to Jesus was written by composer Ralph Carmichael. Ralph Carmichael was born on May 27, 1927 in Quincy, Illinois. He was the son of a Pentecostal minister. As a child, he learned to play the violin. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing with the San Jose Civic Symphony. He grew up in the days […]

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