Hymn Story: Lead, Kindly Light

John Henry Newman wrote a poem “The Pillar of the Cloud” in 1833. The poem was first published in the British Magazine the following year. Charles H. Purday’s “Tune” was married to the poem. It then became the hymn we know “Lead, Kindly Light.” As a young priest, Newman became sick while in Italy and was unable to travel for […]

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Patriotic Song: The Stars and Stripes Forever

“The Stars and Stripes Forever” is a patriotic American march widely considered to be the magnum opus of composer John Philip Sousa.  Sousa is considered America’s “March King”. “In his autobiography, Marching Along, Sousa wrote that he composed the march on [Christmas Day], 1896. He was on an ocean liner on his way home from a vacation with his wife […]

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Hymn Story: Face to Face

Carrie Ellis Breck wrote “Face to Face with Christ my Savior” in 1898. Throughout her career she wrote numerous poems and hymns, but this is her most well-known. She was born on January 22, 1855 in Vermont. In 1884, she married Frank A. Breck. It is estimated that she wrote between 1400-1500 songs before her death in 1934.

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Hymn Story: An Evening Prayer

The hymn “An Evening Prayer” was written by C. Maud Battersby. I’ve been unable to find any additional information on Battersby. The hymn is sometimes referred to by the first line “If I have wounded any soul today.” Charles Gabirel wrote the tune around 1911. Gabriel wrote the music for numerous hymns and often worked with Fannie Crosby. In 1912, […]

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Hymn Story: I Have Found a Friend

Happy Father’s Day! “I’ve found a Friend” was written by James G. Small. Small’s was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1817. In 1847, he became the minister of the Free Church at Bervie. He wrote many poems before his death in 1888. “I’ve found a friend” is his best known hymn. It first appeared in thy Psalms & Sacred Songs […]

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Hymn Story: When they Ring those Golden Bells

Daniel de Marbelle wrote “When they Ring Those Golden Bells” in 1887. The song describes a phrase found in the Bible with a “golden bells” a reference found in Exodus 39:25. “And they made bells of pure gold and attached them around the hem between the pomegranates.” de Marbelle was a European immigrant, veteran of the American Civil War and […]

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Hymn Story: Old Time Religion

The Jubilee song, “Old Time Religion” has a long and complicated history that’s not very clear. Whether it originated as an English folk song or a spiritual is up for debate. It is believed that it dates back to at least 1873 or earlier. Charles Davis Tillman published the song after hearing it performed by African-Americans at a camp meeting […]

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Hymn Story: Day by Day

Lina Sandell wrote the hymn “Day by Day (and with Each Passing Moment)” in 1865. Several years earlier she’d witnessed the tragic drowning of her father. She was a prolific Swedish hymn writer. The hymn was originally titled “Blott en dag,” its first three words in Swedish, meaning “just one day.” Andrew L. Skoog, a Swedish immigrant to the U.S., […]

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Hymn Story: God Give Us Christian Homes

Baylus B. McKinney wrote the hymn “God, Give Us Christian Homes” which is very fitting for Mother’s Day. He wrote around 150 songs and composed music for about 115 more songs. McKinney served as music editor for the Robert H. Coleman Company and on the faculty at the School of Sacred Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He also pastored […]

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Song Story: Shine, Jesus, Shine

“Shine, Jesus, Shine” is a popular praise song.  It was written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick. Kendrick recounted that he’d written three verses and road-tested them. The song didn’t seem to come together and he put it away for a while. Sometime later the phrase “Shine Jesus Shine” came to his mind and he wrote the song in less than […]

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Hymn Story: Come Worship Him

“Come and Worship” is a hymn written by Fanny Crosby. Over her career as a hymn writer, Crosby’s words were partnered with melodies of numerous composers. Phoebe Knapp is the composer of this hymn and wrote over 500 hymn tunes. Her best-known song with Fanny Crosby is “Blessed Assurance.”

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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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