Hymn Story: Ivory Palaces

Famous evangelist Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman preached at Montreat (Presbyterian conference grounds) in Western, NC in the summer of 1915. He spoke on Psalm 45 and referenced a book he’d written in 1893 Ivory Palaces of the King. Chapman believed the hymn spoke of the relationship of Christ (the bridegroom) to his bride (the church). In the congregation that day […]

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Hymn Story: Jesus and His Love

“Jesus and His Love” is a hymn that I heard at the end of a Little House on the Prairie episode (The Gift). It is a hymn that is new to me and seems to have been written by W. Howard Doane and John R. Clemons. W. Howard Doane wrote the refrain or chorus for this hymn. He was born […]

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Hymn Story: Glory to His Name

Glory to His Name is often known by its first line “Down at the Cross Where My Savior died.” The hymn was written by Elisha A. Hoffman and first published in 1878.  It is believed Hoffman had been reading about Jesus’ crucifixion and was inspired to write the poem. Hoffman (1839-1929) wrote over 2,000 songs including “Leaning on the Everlasting […]

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Hymn Story: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” is considered a Christian Passion hymn.  It is based on a long Latin poem “Salve mundi salutare” from the Middle Ages. Each of the seven stanzas addresses various part’s of Christ’s body on the cross.  The part this hymn is taken from involved Christ’s head. It is believed Arnulf of Leuven wrote the poem, although […]

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Easter Hymn: He Arose

He Arose is often known by its first line “Low in the grave He lay” or the last line “Hallelujah! Christ arose!” The verse is known for its dirge or slowness while the chorus is upbeat and full of celebration. This popular Easter hymn was written in 1874 by Robert Lowry, a 19th Century preacher and hymn writer. The belief […]

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Hymn Story: In the Cross of Christ I Glory

“In the Cross of Christ I Glory” was written by Sir John Bowring. He was born in 1792 in Exeter, England and a gifted linguist mastering thirteen languages. In 1854, he was knighted by Queen Victoria. He helped Great Britain develop relationships with a number of countries and served in Parliament for two terms. Even in retirement he remained highly […]

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Hymn Story: Jesus, Lover of My Soul

“Jesus, Lover of My Soul” was written by the prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley. He wrote the hymn within months of his 1738 conversion and titled the piece “In Temptation”.  It was first published as a poem in 1740. Not until nine years after Wesley’s death was a tune added to the poem. Yet, it has become one of his […]

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Hymn Story: Jesus Saves

“Jesus Saves” is often known with its opening line “we have heard the joyful sound”. The hymn was written by Priscilla J. Owens. She was born on July 21, 1829 and lived in Baltimore, where she worked in the public-school sector. Most of her hymns were written for children’s services with many of her works appearing in the Methodist Protestant […]

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Hymn Story: There is a Balm in Gilead

“There Is A Balm in Gilead” is a traditional spiritual. While the date of composition is unknown, the song dates back to at least the 19th Century. A version of the refrain can be found in Washington Glass’s 1854 hymn “The Sinner’s Cure”. A “balm in Gilead” is a reference from the Old Testament taken from Jeremiah 8:22.

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Hymn Story: All My Hope On God is Founded

“All My Hope on God is Founded” began as the German hymn. The original words “Meine Hoffnung stehet feste”. Joachim Neander wrote the hymn around 1680. Neander was born in 1650 in Bremen (modern day Germany). He served as a German theologian and hymnwriter. He wrote over sixty hymns and is best known for the hymn Praise to the Lord, […]

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Hymn Story: Jerusalem

William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker.  In his epic collection Milton: A Poem in Two Books is a poem titled “And did those feet in ancienty time”. Various lines of the poem are drawn from either historical events or passages of scripture. Sir Hubert Parry composed the music to the poem in 1916.  Today this is the […]

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Hymn Story: Who Shall Separate us?

“Who Shall Separate Us?” is an eight-part a cappella choir composition. It was written by James MacMillian and commissioned for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II sometime around 2011-2012 when the song was written. The commission is said to come as a surprise, but MacMillian is known as a “masterly composer of small-scale religious choral pieces”. MacMillian said he […]

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Hymn Story: Blaenwern

Blaenwern is a Welsh hymn. The song was composed by William Penfro Rowlands during the 1904-1905 Welsh revival. Rowlands was born on April 19, 1860. He was a Welsh schoolteacher, composer, and conductor of the Morriston United Choral Society. He died on October 22, 1937. The song was first published in the 1915 Cân a Moliant by Henry H. Jones. This […]

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