Hymn Story: Scars in Heaven

“Scars in Heaven” is a song by Casting Crowns about hope in the midst of loss. Mark Hall wrote the story as his grandparents slowly passed away. To learn more about the story behind this song watch Mark Hall discuss what inspired him. During this journey, he was inspired by an event following the resurrection in the book of Luke.

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Easter Song Story: St. John Passion

The Passion or oratorio “St. John Passion” was written by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was written during his first year as director of church music in Leipzig and was first performed on April 7, 1724, at Good Friday Vespers at the St. Nicholas Church. There are two halves, which are intended to flank a sermon. The Passion narrates the Passion […]

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Hymn Story: My Song is Love Unknown

Samuel Crossman, a Puritan minister, wrote the hymn “My Song is Love Unknown” in 1664. At the time he wrote the hymn, he’d been exiled from the Church of England for his opposition to the Act of Uniformity (public prayers and sacraments rites) 1662. Crossman rejoined the Church of England the following year after writing this hymn. He continued to […]

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Hymn Story: My Anchor Holds

William C. Martin wrote the 1902 hymn “My Anchor Holds.” Martin was born in 1864 in Hightstown, NJ. He served as a minister to churches in New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana, Mass., and Florida and wrote numerous hymns. He and his wife, Euretta May Wilcox, had at least three children together.  He died in 1914 in Rialto, FL.

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Hymn Story: Let Us with a Gladsome Mind 

John Milton (1608-1674) wrote the hymn “Let Us with a Gladsome Mind” in 1623. Milton composed various musical versions of some of the Psalms. This hymn is based on Psalm 136. The tune “Monkland” is rooted in the text of “Fahre fort” (1704) by Johann A. Freylinghausen’s.  John Antes (1740-1811) significantly altered the tune to the composition known today. He […]

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Hymn Story: In the Cross of Christ I Glory   

John Bowring wrote “In the Cross of Christ I Glory.” Bowing was born in Exeter, Devon, England on Oct. 17, 1792.  He is considered a great linguist, having been self-taught, he mastered five languages. He translated many literary works, served in the House of Commons for 2 terms and in 1854 was knighted by Queen Victoria and appointed as governor […]

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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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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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