Christmas Song Story: Candlelight Carol

John Rutter, an English composer and conductor, wrote Candlelight Carol in 1984. He recorded the song with his own group, the Cambridge Singers. The group released the song on their 1987 album Christmas Night. The song was commissioned by a church in Pennsylvania celebrating the Virgin Mary. Rutter is said to draw inspiration from the Geertgen’s painting, Nativity at Night. […]

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Christmas Song Story: Calypso Carol

The Calypso Carol is often known by it’s opening line “See him lying on a bed of straw”. Some announcers have introduced the song as a traditional folk carol of the West Indies. However, it was written by an Englishman, Michael Perry. Perry wrote the song in 1964 while a college student for their Christmas concert. The song became famous by […]

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Patriotic song: American Soldier

American Soldier is a song made popular by Toby Keith. He co-wrote the song with Chuck Cannon. Keith said that the song was written “for all the times that I get to meet the troops on these USO tours, and since Courtesy of Red, White, and Blue, the P.O.W.s and the families that have come and brought me back my […]

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Hymn Story: The King of Love My Shepherd Is

The King of Love My Shepherd Is was written by Henry W. Baker. Baker was born in London, England in 1821. He took Holy Orders in 1844 and he wrote many hymns. One of his earliest compositions was the very beautiful hymn, “Oh! what if we are Christ’s”. His hymns are described as “simplicity of language, smoothness of rhythm, and […]

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Hymn Story: Thine is the Glory

Thine is the Glory is often performed as an Easter song. The hymn was written by Edmond Budry, a Swiss Protestant minister. The lyrics are set to the tune “See, the Conqu’ring hero comes” from the third section of Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus. The German Advent hymn Tochter Zion, freue dich uses the same tune. The hymn is also sometimes […]

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Hymn Story: Lift High the Cross

Lift High the Cross is a 19th Century English hymn. It was written by George Kitchin and altered by Michael R. Newbolt in 1916. It has been suggested the hymn was inspired by Constantine the Great’s conversion to Christianity and seeing a cross which had the Latin version of “In this sign thou shalt conquer” written on it. Kitchin wrote […]

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Hymn Story: Simple Gifts   

Simple Gifts is attributed to Joseph Brackett, a member of the Alfred Shaker Village. It was composed in 1848, and relatively unknown until Aaron Copeland used the melody in the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring, first performed in 1944. Copeland used the song a second time “in 1950 in his first set of Old American Songs.” Several Shaker […]

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Behind the Hymn: Christ is the world’s redeemer

Christ is the world’s redeemer is attributed to St. Columba, an Irish abbot, born in 521. He is credited with spreading Christianity through what is today Scotland. He is highly regarded among the Gaels and Picts and is considered one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. Around 563, he and twelve companions sailed to Ionia, Scotland where they founded a […]

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Behind the Hymn: Awake my heart with gladness

Awake my heart with gladness was written by Paul Gerhardt. The song was translated by John Kelly. Gerhardt was born in Gräfenheinichen, Saxony, Germany in 1607. He studied theology and wrote many hymns including Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow. He died in 1676 in Lubben, Germany. John Kelly was born in 1833 Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. He ministered to churches Hebburn-on-Tyne and […]

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Behind the Hymn: Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadows

Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadows was written by Paul Gerhardt. Gerhardt was born in Gräfenheinichen, Saxony, Germany in 1607. He studied theology and wrote many hymns. He endured much suffering and lived through The Thirty Years War. Four of his five children died young and his wife endured a prolonged illness. Like many other German hymns, Gerhardt’s songs are very […]

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Behind the Hymn: My Song is Love Unknown

My Song is Love Unknown is a hymn by Samuel Crossman. Crossman was a Puritan minister who opposed the Act of Uniformity 1662 and was exiled from the Church of England. He wrote the poem “My Song Is Love Unknown” in 1664. It was not published until he rejoined the Church of England and published in The Young Man’s Meditation […]

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Behind the Hymn: The Day Thou Gavest

The Day Thou Gavest was written by John Ellerton. The hymn was first published in 1870. Ellerton was born in London, England in 1826. He was ordained to the Church of England in 1851 and served six different churches throughout his career. He also helped to compile several hymn books. He died in England in 1893. Ellerton wrote and translated […]

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Behind the Hymn: Now I Belong to Jesus

Now I Belong to Jesus was written by Norman J. Clayton. Clayton composed the tune Ellsworth in 1942 and a year later wrote the lyrics to this hymn to go with it.  The hymn is sometimes referred to by it’s first line “Jesus, my Lord will love me forever”. Clayton was born on January 22, 1903 in Brooklyn, New York. […]

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Behind the Hymn: More About Jesus

More About Jesus was written by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt and John R. Sweney provided the music. More about Jesus was one of the first collaborations of Hewitt and Sweney. The song was first published in 1887 in the hymnal Glad Hallelujahs. During a visit to the Onondaga Reservation, Hewitt was adopted into the tribe. She stated “this relationship has led […]

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