Hymn Story: Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Imagine standing at the foot of Jesus cross with his mother, Mary Magdalene, the other women and the apostle John. Beneath the Cross of Jesus gives us insight to this time and place. The song was written by Elizabeth Clephane, who also wrote The Ninety and Nine. Elizabeth Clephane lost her parents at a young age and struggled with her […]

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Behind the Hymn: Hold the Fort

Ira Sankey wrote “Mr. Bliss said to me once, not long before his death, that he hoped that he would not be known to posterity only as the author of Hold the Fort, for he believed that he had written many better songs. However, when I attended the dedication of the Bliss monument, at Rome, Pennsylvania, I found these words […]

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Thanksgiving Hymn Story: Bountiful Harvest

This is a beautiful Thanksgiving hymn, which has often been forgotten and overlooked. The hymn is often known as “We Praise Thee O Lord For The Bountiful Harvest“. The hymn was written by famed hymnists, Fanny Crosby. Fanny Crosby wrote well over 8,000 hymns and is considered a prolific hymnists. She was blinded at the age of six weeks and […]

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Behind the Hymn: Saved by Grace

Fanny Crosby, was a famed hymn composer in the 19th Century.  She wrote over 5,500 hymns in her almost 95 years on earth. However, she spent the majority of her life blind. She became blind when she was only six weeks old from an eye infection and medical ignorance. However, she did not let her blindness hinder it.  She said, […]

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Hymn Story: The Ninety and Nine

Jesus told the parable of the shepherd who left his ninety-nine sheep to go after the one lost sheep. {Luke 15:3-7} Elizabeth Clephane lived in Melrose, Scotland during the 19th Century.  She was an invalid and wrote the hymn, based on the parable, to help children remember the truths of Jesus’s words. The text to her poem appeared in the […]

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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: The Banner of the Cross

The Banner of the Cross was written by Daniel W. Whittle. Daniel Whittle served in the Civil War, obtaining the rank of major. He was known as Major Whittle the remainder of his life. After the war, he went to work for Elgin Watch Company. In 1873, he resigned his job and became a revival evanglist in the Dwight L. […]

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Behind the Hymn: I Will Sing the Wondrous Story

  I Will Sing the Wondrous Story was written by Francis H. Rowley in 1886. Francis Harold Rowley was born in Hilton, New York on July 25, 1854. His father was a doctor. After graduating from Rochester University, Rowley attended Seminary and was ordained to the ministry in 1878. Rowley wrote, “I was minister of the First Baptist Church of […]

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Behind the Hymn: Moment by Moment

Moment by Moment was another hymn written by Major Daniel Webster Whittle. He is also the author of I Know Whom I Have Believed. Ira Sankey recounted that while at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Rev. Henry Varley stated “I do not like the hymn, I Need Thee Every Hour.  I need him Moment by Moment.” Major Whittle was impressed […]

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Behind the Hymn: Trusting Jesus

Trusting Jesus was written by Edgar Page Stites.  The music was written by Ira D. Sankey. Edgar Page Stites was a direct descendant of John Howland, one of the Mayflower passengers.  Stites served in the Civil War before becoming a riverboat pilot and later a missionary to churches in South Dakota. The poem first appeared in the newspaper.  The poem […]

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Behind the Hymn: I am thine, O Lord

I Am Thine, O Lord is another beloved hymn by Fanny Crosby. Ira Sankey shared in his book that Fanny Crosby was visiting Mr. W.H. Doane, in is Cincinnati, Ohio home.  They were talking about the blessedness and nearness of God.   The sun began to set that evening and the evening shadows were gathering around them, during which time someone […]

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Behind the Hymn: Are you washed in the Blood

Are you washed in the Blood was written by Elisha Hoffman. Elisha Hoffman was born on May 7, 1839 in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.  He was a Presbyterian minister and composer of over 2,000 hymns and 50 song books during his 90 years. Music historian Jacob Hall described Elisha Hoffman’s musical ability in the following manner, “When a melody is born in […]

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Behind the Hymn: Rescue the Perishing

Rescue the Perishing was written by Fanny Crosby in 1869. This hymn became the theme song for the home mission’s movement. Crosby was attending weekly meetings by the interdenominational New York City Mission in July 1869.  A young man was converted through her testimony, which inspired Crosby to write the words to Rescue the Perishing. The title was based on […]

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Behind the Hymn: Man of Sorrows

We are in the Lent season and preparing for Easter Sunday.  However, before we can reach the light we must pass through the darkness. Philip P. Bliss wrote both the text and tune to the haunting hymn, Man of Sorrows.  The hymn is based on Isaiah 52-53.  In these scripture passages, the prophet Isaiah, depicts the suffering servant. Man of […]

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Behind the Hymn: Beulah Land

I have a dear friend that is named Beulah.  Every time I see her she ask me to sing her song for her.  When she first asked I was taken aback by this question and discovered there is not just one song about Beulah land.  No, in actuality there a handful of songs about Beulah land.  So this month we’re […]

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Behind the Hymn: I Need Thee Every Hour

I recently came across this hymn during a devotional and was drawn to the words. I was also reminded that this is not a hymn I hear sung in church very often anymore.  Yet, even today the message seems to remain the same.  We need Jesus every hour of every day. This hymn was written by Annie Sherwood Hawks.  She […]

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Hymn Story: O How I Love Jesus

The verse to O How I Love Jesus was written by Frederick Whitfield. Frederick Whitfield was born in Threapwood, Shropshire, England on Jan. 7, 1829.  After attending Trinity College in Dublin, he became an Anglican Church clergyman. In 1875, he reached the pinnacle of his carrer when he was appointed to St. Mary’s Church in Hastings. He is credited with […]

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Behind the Song: The Lily of the Valley

In 1881, Charles Fry was inspired by the imagery in the Song of Solomon. “‘I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.’ Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens. Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I […]

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