Hymn Story: To You Alone

To You Alone was written by Fred and Ruth Coleman.  The hymn is often referred to by its first line “Let us join our hearts together and give thanks in one accord.” The hymn has appeared in the hymnal Hymns Modern and Ancient. I’ve been unable to find any additional information on the composers or song.

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Hymn Story: Stand Up and Bless the Lord    

James Montgomery wrote the hymn “Stand Up and Bless the Lord.” The hymn was written for the anniverary celebration of the Red Hill Wes­ley­an Sun­day School in Shef­field, Eng­land. Montgomery was born in 1771 Scotland.  His parenty died on the mission field of the West Indies while he was a young man in boarding school. He inherited a strong religious […]

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Hymn Story: I Shall Know Him

Fanny Crosby wrote the hymn “My Savior First of All.”  The hymn is also known as “I shall know Him.” Crosby, who was blind, wrote many hymns. She stated “If I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind…for when I die, the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

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Hymn Story: They’ll Know We Are Christians

“They’ll Know We Are Christians” is a hymn written by Father Peter Scholtes in the 1960s for an Ecumenical event. By the 1980s, Scholtes left the priesthood. He’d go on to become a business management consultant and author. He died in 2009. The title of the song originates in a phrase that non-believers used to describe Christians believers of early […]

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Song Story: How Long Has It Been

Mosie Lister wrote “How Long Has It Been” which took him “little more than 10 minutes” to write. According to Lister, usually “I sweat blood over most of the songs I write.” He spoke in an interview about growing up in a Christian home and saying bedtime prayers. As an adult, he’d learned to talk to God in “other ways.”  […]

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Christmas Song Story: We Three Kings

Peter Cornelius, a German composer, wrote “The Three Kings” under the oritinal title “Die Könige” for a vocal soloist. The carol describes the visit of the Biblical Magi to the Infant Jesus during the Nativity and is also used as an Epiphany anthem.  It is also known by the title “Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar”. Cornelius wrote his first […]

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Christmas Song Story: Mary’s Boy Child

“Mary’s Boy Child” is a Christmas song written by Jester Hariston in 1956. According to Wikipedia, a friend asked Hairston to write a song for a birthday party.  Hairston wrote the song with a calypson rhythm “because the people at the party would be mainly West Indians. The song’s original title was “He Pone and Chocolate Tea”, pone being a […]

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Christmas Song Story: Jesus, the Light of the World

“Jesus, the Light of the World” was arranged by George D. Elderkin. It was first published with a collection of Christmas Carols in 1890 in “Gift of Finest Wheat”. He seems to have arranged this composition from Charles Wesley’s hymn “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”  Elderkin’s arrangement drew upon the first two lines of Wesley’s hymns in stanzas 1, 2, […]

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Christmas Song Story: Gabriel’s Message

“Gabriel’s Message” is a Christmas folk carol that tells of Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of the Christ. The song is also known as “The angel Gabriel from heaven came” from the first line and based on the passage from Luke 1:46-55. For this reason the text is known as “The Magnificat.” The […]

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Christmas Song Story: Ding Dong! Merrily on High   

“Ding Dong! Merrily on High” first appeared as a secular dance tune written by a French cleric, Thoinot Arbeau under the pen name Jehan Tabourot (1519-1593). The song was published under the title “Brandle de l’Official.” George Ratcliffe Woodward (184801934) added the words and first published the Christmas carol in 1924. Woodward wrote several carol books and had an interest […]

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Christmas song Story: The Holly and the Ivy

The Holly and the Ivy is a traditional British folk Christmas carol. The song was published during the early 19th Century. William Hone mentioned the work in his 1823  Ancient Mysteries Described. Holly is found throughout Europe and commonly referenced at Christmastime, often as Christ’s thorn. Since medieval times the plant has been a symbol for the Christian faith. Holy […]

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Hymn Story: Praise to the Lord the Almighty

“Praise to the Lord! the Almighty, the King of Creation!” was written by Joachim Neander in 1680.  He was the first important hymn-writer of the German Reformed Church. He primarily wrote after he went to Düsseldorf, where he’d taken a vow of silence to anything except official work. He died in 1680 at the age of thirty. Catherine Winkworth translated […]

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Song Story: Praises, I’ll Sing Praises

Growing up we sang and I learned to play on the piano “Praises, I’ll sing praises…to Jesus my Redeemer my friend.” The song was published in 1976 by John T. Benson Publishing Company. The song was written by W. Elmo Mercer, who wrote over 600 Gospel songs and hymns including “each Step I Take.” In the 1960s, Mercer worked for […]

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Patriotic Song: The Battle Cry of Freedom

“The Battle Cry of Freedom” was written in 1862 by George Frederick Root.  The song is also known as “Rally ‘Round the Flag.” The song is a patriotic song, popular during the American Civil War, that advocated the causes of unionism and abolitionism. A modified version of the song became the campaign song for the 1864 Lincoln-Johnson presidential election. One […]

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Song Story: The Hurrian Hymn

“The Hurrian Hymn” is considered the oldest surviving melody and dates back more than 3,400 years ago. The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarite (modern-day Syria) 1950 and inscribed with Cuneiform text.  Along with the discovery were 30 other tablet fragments and 9 lyre strings. The text is not Christian but dedicated to the Hurrians’ goddess of […]

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Hymn Story: Savior, More than Life to Me

“Savior, More than Life to Me” was first published by Fanny Crosby in 1875. William H. Doane composed the music. He sent Crosby the tune and requested she write a hymn titled “Every day and hour.”  It is said that this hymn provided Crosby with great joy and comfort. Ira Sankey wrote “Her hope has been most ful­ly ver­i­fied, for […]

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