Featured Hymns

A Mighty Fortress

It’s said that Luther himself took a great deal of comfort in his hymn. When times were tough, he would turn to his companion Melancthon and say, “Come, Philip, let us sing the 46th Psalm.”

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Abide with me: fast falls the eventide

Albert Bailey once wrote, “This hymn is wholly about death.” While this is essentially true, thankfully, the hymn text lays it out a little less bluntly than Bailey does.

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Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended

This hymn does such a good job reminding us why Jesus suffered that J.S. Bach used it in both the "St. Matthew Passion" and the "St. John Passion." The reason for this is that the author of the German text wrote it while under severe suffering himself.

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Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed

In her autobiography, Fanny Crosby recounts how this hymn influenced her conversion at a revival meeting: “And when they reached the third line of the fourth stanza, 'Here Lord, I give myself away' my very soul was flooded with a celestial light. I sprang to my feet, shouting 'hallelujah' ….”

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All Creatures of our God and King

It makes sense that St. Francis of Assisi would include a verse about death in this beloved poem, since he was very near his own; today, most hymnal editors seem to find it difficult to sing about “gentle death” praising God with an “Alleluia!”

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All Glory, Laud and Honor

Deep in the dungeons of Angers, France, Theodulph of Orleans was imprisoned for conspiring against King Louis the Pious. Choosing not to remain idle while in prison, Theodulph, who later became a saint, wrote these words of praise, which have been used as a processional on Palm Sunday ever since.

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All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

The jury is still out on exactly what verses of this powerful hymn ought to be sung, but though different traditions will probably never agree on this matter, everyone can say that this hymn of victory is a treasure to the church.

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All People That on Earth Do Dwell

This grand hymn, with its well-known tune, is one of the most popular of all English-language hymns, and was the basis of a choral anthem by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

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All Things Bright and Beautiful

As a reflection of the economical thought of the day, an original verse of this hymn described how God created the rich and poor man, and “ordered their estate.” Not surprisingly, this verse isn’t sung too often today.

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Alleluia! Sing to Jesus

Lying bedridden with a near fatal illness in 1866, William C. Dix found the hope to pen the words to the joyful hymn of victory, “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!” Inspired by the words of Revelation to sing a new song, this hymn calls us to lift our voices and praise the ascended Christ, who yet remains with us and intercedes for us.

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Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)

John Julian describes this hymn as a poor representation of the rest of Newton’s work, and yet it is by far Newton’s best-known hymn, and has been described by some as “America’s national folk hymn.” This assurance of grace and pardon has brought comfort and hope to millions over the last two centuries, and continues to do so today.

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America the Beautiful

This famous patriotic hymn, with its vivid images of America's land and history, was inspired by a trip the author took from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains.

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An Evening Hymn

Bishop Thomas Ken is best known for writing "Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow." Before that doxology became famous standing alone, it was just the last stanza for this hymn.

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And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?

Though Charles Wesley was raised by Christian parents, it was not until he was an adult and a priest of the Church of England that he was converted to genuine faith in Christ. He wrote this hymn in response to this conversion experience in 1738.

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Angels From the Realms of Glory

Newspaper editor James Montgomery wrote this text nearly two hundred years ago for his Christmas Eve edition. It has become one of our most beloved Christmas hymns.

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Angels We Have Heard on High

There are very few Latin phrases that the Protestant church still sings today, but “Gloria in excelsis Deo” is one we sing with joy and vigor!

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As with Gladness Men of Old

Any popular account of the story of the Magi is likely to focus on their meeting with the Christ-child, and the gifts they presented. But that part of the story is only one verse out of twelve in Matthew's gospel. This hymn puts the focus where Matthew does – on the journey of the Magi.

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Be Thou My Vision

Pirates, monks, a king, druids, and a devout priest...all are a part of the tale of this hymn. Some call this story myth…but the truth of “Be Thou My Vision” has blessed Christians since it first appeared in a hymnal more than 1400 years after the event that inspired it.

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Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Elizabeth Clephane wrote this hymn near the end of her life, when the reality that she would soon leave this world gave her a perspective on what truly matters.

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Blessed Assurance

Fanny Crosby was walking with her friend, Phoebe Palmer Knapp, one day when Phoebe sang her the chorus of a tune she had written. She asked Fanny, “What does that tune say to you?” Fanny replied, “Blessed assurance.” In that moment, this musical gift to the church was born.

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Blessed Jesus, at Thy word

This hymn is about recognizing the distance between the holy perfection of God and the insincerity of human hearts, and is a request that God reach out to close the gap and bring us into His presence.

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Blest Be the Tie That Binds

This hymn on Christian love and unity is a great reminder of the larger context in which each individual believer lives – the interdependence on each another and the hope to be reunited with our loved ones in heaven.

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Bread of the world, in mercy broken

It is a common practice to engrave the words “In remembrance of me” on a Communion table. In this brief hymn, Reginald Heber outlines what we remember in Communion through the bread and wine.

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Brethren, we have met to worship

This American hymn traditionally opens each session of the Southern Harmony Singing day every year in Benton, Kentucky.

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Christ the Lord is risen today

Can you believe that the tune for this joyful Easter hymn was once described as “rather florid?” Continue reading to find out how this hymn has changed over the years…

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Come Down, O Love Divine

This prayer to the Holy Spirit comes from a collection of medieval poems by an Italian monk. It did not achieve much popularity until the great English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, wrote what is considered one of his best tunes for it.

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Come, Thou Almighty King

It was once thought that Charles Wesley wrote this hymn as a parody of “God Save the King.” While we now know that Wesley is most likely not the author, it was originally sung to the tune of the British national anthem.

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Come, Thou Fount

Written by a mischief-maker turned pastor in the mid-eighteenth century, this beloved hymn speaks of the redemptive love of God for his wandering sheep. Using imagery taken from throughout the Bible, this powerful text acts as confession, assurance, and dedication, making it a versatile and beautiful hymn for worship at any time.

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Come, Thou long expected Jesus

C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise” (Lewis, Mere Christianity). This longing for something greater is expressed simply but profoundly in Wesley’s beautiful Advent hymn, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”

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Come, ye disconsolate, where'er ye languish

This hymn is the best-known religious poem from an Irish poet who is most remembered for secular works such as “The Minstrel Boy” and “The Last Rose of Summer.”

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Come, ye sinners

A hymn text that gets the online blog and forum world afire with controversy, this song of invitation to the broken and the humbled to rise up and go to Jesus requires thoughtful attention, but can also be a powerful, formative reminder of Christ’s love and redeeming work.

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Come, ye thankful people, come

This hymn was written in a rural village dependent on agriculture. It used a common image for the villagers to illustrate the truth of the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, but has since been reduced to a carefree harvest song.

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Comfort, comfort ye my people

Though we usually sing this hymn during Advent, it was originally written for a summer day – St. John the Baptist's Day on June 24.

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Crown Him with many crowns

It has to feel like a bit of a slap in the face to have someone completely rewrite your hymn because they didn’t like the original, but that’s exactly what happened with this hymn. This slightly awkward collaboration has since led to a beautiful and festive hymn of praise.

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Day by Day

Carolina Sandell was known as the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden” for the hundreds of hymns that she wrote.

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Eternal Father! strong to save

The Navy Hymn was a favorite of Franklin D. Roosevelt and was played at his funeral in 1945 and that of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

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Fairest Lord Jesus

One popular myth about this hymn is that it is from the time of the Crusades. The story is that, in the twelfth century, a group of German children were inspired to form a crusade to recapture the Holy Land, and that they sang this hymn as they marched. The truth is that it was likely written a few centuries later in more ordinary circumstances.

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For all the Saints, who from their labor rest

Did you know that the popularity of this hymn did not take off until it was paired with a tune by the great English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams? In fact the original tune can scarcely be found in any hymnal today!

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For the Beauty of the Earth

The only one of Folliott Pierpoint’s hymns still sung today, he was inspired to write it while amid scenery beloved by many – the green rolling hills of England, and the banks of the winding River Avon.

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From All That Dwell Below the Skies

In 1750, only thirty years after this hymn was published, it could be found in nearly 100% of all published hymnals! They don’t call Isaac Watts the father of hymnody for nothing!

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Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

Have you ever wondered what significance the host of angels appearing to the shepherds at Christ's birth had beyond a mere announcement of his arrival? In this hymn, Joseph Cook gives us one answer.

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Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken

This hymn by John Newton, best known for “Amazing Grace,” is linked to a controversial tune by a famous classical composer, Franz Joseph Haydn.

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Go Down, Moses

This African-American spiritual was the first of that genre to be published, appearing in 1861.

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Go, Tell It on the Mountain

This well-known and often used Christmas spiritual has been recorded on over forty gospel, pop, bluegrass, and country Christmas albums, and remains a treasured Christmas hymn. With a variety of styles and genres to choose from when arranging, this hymn is a versatile, yet classic choice for a Christmas Day service.

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Go to Dark Gethsemane

James Montgomery's poetical retelling of the final days of Jesus' life puts us close to our Savior, watching and learning from His example as He fulfilled the mission for which He was born.

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God of Grace and God of Glory

Written by a controversial preacher from the early twentieth century, this hymn emphasizes the need for God's presence with His people.

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God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand

Although this nationalist hymn was written specifically for a centennial celebration of the United States’ Declaration of Independence, it does not contain references that are uniquely American nor is it a martial hymn, but a prayer for divine blessing.

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Good Christian Men, Rejoice

Not all dreams are equal: the fourteenth century mystic Heinrich Suso claimed that in one of his ecstatic visions, he danced with the angels while they sang this hymn. That’s a bit more exciting than a daydream about getting out of class early.

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Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah

Joining “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Abide With Me” as hymns sung at British sporting events, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” is a favorite to be sung at Welsh rugby matches.

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Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise

Charles Wesley wrote several well-known hymns for the major church feasts extolling the glory and power of God. This hymn was written for Ascension.

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Hail Thee, Festival Day

This ancient processional hymn is derived from a sixth-century Latin poem that was handed down through the Middle Ages. Though it has been adapted for nearly every feast in the church calendar, modern versions are usually customized for Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost.

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Hail to the Lord's Anointed

Everyone loves a good buffet, and Montgomery’s text comes with a smorgasbord of possible accompanying tunes to choose from.

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Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Do you know what the “welkin” is? If not, chances are you would be fairly confused when singing, “Hark, how all the welkin rings.” Read the “Text” paragraph under “Worship Ideas” to find out what this word means, and why it was changed.

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He Leadeth Me

It must be a bit of a surprise to come across something you wrote years ago, now published and being sung by hundreds of people. But that’s exactly what happened to Joseph Gilmore when he walked into a church and opened a hymnal to see what they sang, and flipped straight to his own hymn!

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Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!

Sometimes the most beautiful things come out of the most troubled times, and the great hymn "Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty," inspired by the Nicene Creed as a response to the Arian heresy, is no exception.

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Hosanna, Loud Hosanna

Can you remember the last time you heard a small child shriek with delight, or babble excitedly in a language we can’t understand? What if we all suddenly began to do the exact same, no matter what age we are? It would certainly seem strange, but that enthusiasm and carefree excitement is what author Jeannette Threlfall invites us to experience in the words of her beautiful Palm Sunday hymn.

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How Can I Keep from Singing

Though neither the text nor the tune are usually presented in their original form, this hymn by Robert Lowry has survived as a reminder that circumstances cannot dampen the true joy that only Christ can give.

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How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord

While the authorship of this hymn is disputed, the power of the words is not. This great text of the faithfulness of God has assured Christians for the last two centuries of the power of Christ and the certainty of hope.

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How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

This hymn is one of John Newton's best-known hymns, and ranks with “Amazing Grace” for popularity.

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I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

This hymn of commitment was most likely created by a Christian convert in India facing persecution.

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I Love to Tell the Story

When a grandparent is a good storyteller, grandchildren love to beg for a story, even if it is one they have heard before. In this hymn, we find an expression of the joy that can come from retelling “the old, old story,” even to those who have heard it before.

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I Need Thee Every Hour

This hymn was written by a housewife who happened to be Robert Lowry's parishioner. It has become one of our most-loved hymns of devotion.

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I sing th'almighty power of God

In 1715, Isaac Watts published a book of songs written expressly for children in order that they might acquire a “relish for virtue and religion.” This hymn came from that collection.

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I Surrender All

“Surrender” is a verb that means “to give up.” When soldiers surrender during a war, they give up their weapons and allow themselves to be imprisoned and led away by their former opponents. Judson Van De Venter wrote this hymn after he surrendered to God following a long struggle against a call to full time ministry.

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I Want Jesus to Walk with Me

Though there is some debate whether the “I” in this spiritual is meant individually or communally, the central theme is the same either way: we need God's help, alone and together, to get through life's tough spots.

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I Will Sing Of My Redeemer

This hymn broke new ground in the world of church music and technology. It was one of the very first songs ever recorded on the phonograph, newly invented by Thomas Edison in 1877, one year after this hymn was written.

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I Will Sing the Wondrous Story

Francis Rowley was asked to write this hymn for a revival. He said that one night during the meeting, “the hymn came to me without any particular effort on my part.”

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If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee

The author of this hymn knew no end of economic trials: he lost all his possessions and job in one of the longest, hardest economic depressions in Germany’s history, and spent years searching for work, yet he still managed to write a hymn of gratitude and trust to the God who provides.

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Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Have you ever been suddenly startled by a light so bright it blinds you? This hymn uses such a metaphor for God in an overflowing expression of praise.

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In the Bleak Midwinter

While many Christmas hymns focus on the glorious visit of the angels or the sweet innocence of a baby, this hymn by Christina Rossetti concentrates on the reality of the Incarnation – God came from the glory of heaven to a cold-hearted world.

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In the cross of Christ I glory, Towering o'er the wrecks of time

One legend about this hymn is that the author, Sir John Bowring, was inspired by a visit to the ruined cathedral on Macao Island near Hong Kong, on top of which stood a blackened cross. While he did not visit China until twenty-four years after the hymn was written, his hymn remains a favorite in many churches.

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In the garden

This widely popular gospel song has met with less than eager reception from hymnal editors due to its highly emotional language, yet it is based on an important moment in the Resurrection account of John 20.

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It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

This Christmas hymn of peace was written during the buildup to the American Civil War.

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I've Got Peace Like a River

The childlike language of this spiritual connects some of the fruit of the Spirit to everyday images. This comparison illustrates how these qualities may be displayed in a Christian's life.

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Jesus, Joy of Our Desiring

This hymn text comes from a little-known German writer, but it is famous because of a musical setting by J. S. Bach, which is popular for weddings.

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Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Despite its intimate language about Jesus as a “lover of my soul,” which some have felt inappropriate for public worship, this hymn is perhaps Charles Wesley's best known poem.

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Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

Karl Barth is reported to have said that the greatest thing he had learned in life was “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

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Jesus Paid It All

Elvina M. Hall probably did not think she would be remembered over a hundred years after her death when she started writing a hymn during church one Sunday morning in 1865, but her hymn has outlived her and continues to touch our lives.

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Jesus, Priceless Treasure

One of the best-known arrangements of this hymn is J. S. Bach's famous motet “Jesu, meine Freude,” which was written for a funeral in 1723. The hymn stanzas alternate with verses from Romans 8, contrasting devotion in the physical and spiritual worlds.

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Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun

Isaac Watts was quite the revolutionary. While his contemporaries stuck within the boundaries of hymnody and Scripture paraphrasing, Watts jumped outside of the box and used the Bible as a launching point for his hymn texts – the foundation upon which he placed his own thoughts. While we might think this to be fairly normal, it was a radical move back in Watts’ day.

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Joy to the world! the Lord is come!

Singing “Joy to the World” in the middle of the summer would most assuredly cause some confused looks among the congregation, but it would be perfectly appropriate, since this hymn was first a psalm paraphrase before a Christmas carol!

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Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

One morning, casually sitting down to breakfast, hymn writer Henry Van Dyke handed a text to the president of Williams College and said, “Here is a hymn for you. The Berkshire Mountains were my inspiration. It must be sung to Beethoven’s ‘Hymn to Joy.’” That text is now the much loved hymn of praise, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”

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Just a Closer Walk with Thee

The tune for this song is well-known as a jazz number, but its lyrics are clearly a Christian prayer for God's help in life's difficulties.

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Just as I am, without one plea

High praise from a family member: Rev. H.V. Elliott said this of his sister’s hymn: “In all my preaching, I have not done so much good as my sister has been permitted to accomplish by writing her own hymn, ‘Just as I am’” (Sankey, My Life in Hymns).

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Kum Ba Yah

Far from being the simple campfire song that it appears to be, this spiritual has quite a history, from its disputed origins to the many recordings made by singers of different genres.

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Lead on, O King Eternal

In a world seemingly fraught with war and violence, it should both make us uncomfortable to sing anything with battle imagery, and also comfort us, knowing that we have the God of all power and might fighting for us against the powers of darkness. Ernest Shurtleff makes that beautifully evident in this hymn.

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Leaning on the everlasting arms

Have you ever seen a small child react to a frightening situation? His first reaction is to run into his parent's arms. This hymn was written as an expression of the peace that a child of God can find in his heavenly Father's arms.

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Let all mortal flesh keep silence

This hymn might come from one of the oldest texts still in use by the church today – some claim it was written by James the Apostle, others that it originated in the 4th century AD – but it isn’t just the age of this hymn that evokes a sense of awe…

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Let Us Break Bread Together

What does facing the rising sun on your knees have to do with taking Communion? For slaves belonging to Anglican families in the antebellum South, the connection might have seemed obvious.

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Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

Originally written for Advent, this elaboration of Psalm 24 explores the majesty of Jesus’ coming to earth, with almost as many variations in text and tune as there are hymnals.

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Like a River Glorious

Frances Havergal lived in God's peace, and even death did not frighten her. When told she would soon die, she is reported to have said, “It is too good to be true.”

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Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

This hymn stems from the prophecies in Isaiah about the branch coming up from the stump of Jesse, and so you might wonder how we ended up singing about a rose. The German word for twig or sprig is “Reis,” and somewhere down the line, a rather un-informed translator made the more obvious switch to the English “rose.”

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Lord, I Want to Be a Christian

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “be” as “to exist in life, to live.” Thus, when we sing of our desire to “be” a Christian, we are singing of our desire to live in Christ, to exist solely in Christ.

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Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Among all the hymnals published in the last half of the twentieth century, it would be difficult to find one hymn that is included in every single hymnal. But in 1994, this hymn could be found in 100% of all published hymnals, which had not been the case for this song since 1783!

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Low in the Grave He Lay

The refrain of this Robert Lowry hymn is a vivid, joyful depiction of the event we celebrate every Easter morning – Christ arose!

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"Man of Sorrows," What a Name

The author of this hymn died tragically in a train accident when he was only thirty-eight years old. This hymn is the last thing one of his good friends, Ira Sankey, heard him sing in this life. What a beautiful piece of music to be remembered by.

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More Love to Thee

Elizabeth Prentiss didn't show this hymn to anyone – not even her husband – for many years after it was written, but we are glad she eventually did, for it is a wonderful prayer of devotion to Christ.

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My Faith Looks Up to Thee

It is said that, upon reading Ray Palmer's hymn, Lowell Mason exclaimed, “Mr. Palmer, you may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of 'My Faith Looks Up to Thee.'”

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My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

Not all of us can boast to have days as productive as Edward Mote’s: in just twenty-four hours he had composed all but two verses of his well-known hymn, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”

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My Jesus, I Love Thee

Whenever you hear someone say that teenagers can’t think or write deeply enough to relate to anyone else, point them to this beloved hymn. William Featherstone wrote it when he was just sixteen years old!

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My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

Attempting to re-write or add to a text so universally well-loved as Psalm 23 can be quite the daunting challenge, but Isaac Watts did it with grace and beauty, providing us with a wonderful hymn text that captures the comfort and simplicity of the beloved psalm.

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Near the Cross

Fanny Crosby is known for the thousands of poems she wrote during her long life, of which many are still sung as hymns. This one is in the top ten for popularity.

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Nearer, My God, to Thee

This hymn was a favorite of President William McKinley, who is reported to have spoken the words on his deathbed after he was shot in 1901.

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Nothing but the blood of Jesus

This hymn about the redeeming power of Jesus's blood is one of Robert Lowry's best-known songs.

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Now Thank We All Our God

There is a popular story that says this hymn was sung at the Peace of Westphalia at the end of the Thirty Years War. Though it would be a good tale, this is rather unlikely. It has been, however, sung at many occasions of national rejoicing in Germany, causing it to be called the “Te Deum” of that country.

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O Come, All Ye Faithful

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” is a weird hymn. That’s all there is to it. Its rhythm (or lack thereof) and irregular meter make this a hymn that, musically, didn’t belong in the 1740s, but which has since found a solid home in our collections of Christmas hymns.

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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

While we all pretend to hate those Christmas gifts that come wrapped in eight boxes and three bags all stuffed inside of each other, we also love the thrill of anticipation and the laughter that ensues. In the same way, the many layers of meaning of the ancient Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Immanuel” make this a 1500 year old gift that is continually being unwrapped by Christians around the world.

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O For a Thousand Tongues

It certainly cannot be said of Charles Wesley that he was ever at a loss for words - his great hymn of praise "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing," originally contained 18 stanzas! Offering a unique combination of belief in God’s present work and our hope for the future, today's 'slightly' shorter version powerfully declares the coming of the new heaven and new earth.

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O God, Our Help in Ages Past

This hymn is so popular in Great Britain that is has become known as the second national anthem of England!

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O little town of Bethlehem

One of the best-loved American Christmas hymns, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was inspired by a trip the author took to Bethlehem for Christmas in 1865.

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O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

This hymn and its music come from separate fifteenth-century sources, and are a good example of the rich heritage of the Church that has been passed down to us.

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O perfect Love, all human thought transcending

This hymn was written for the wedding of the author's sister, and became popular when used for the wedding of the Duke of Fife and the Princess of Wales in 1889.

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O sacred head now wounded

Legend has it that one day, when Bernard of Clairvaux was meditating upon a crucifix hanging on the wall, he had a vision in which the image of Christ on the cross leaned down and embraced him in acceptance of his devotion. It was this vision that apparently inspired Bernard to write verses of prayer to the crucifix, part of which is the foundation for this hymn text.

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O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing!

Not very many Easter hymns focus on the disciples' response to the astounding story that their beloved Master, Jesus Christ, was no longer dead but alive. This old hymn from France tells just that story.

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O Spirit of the living God, Thou light and fire divine

This Pentecost hymn looks forward to the day when the redemption of all creation is fully realized.

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O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!

If you have ever been to the beach on a windy day, you know the power of the waves to carry away anything in their path. In this hymn, Samuel T. Francis compares God's love to the ocean's waves.

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O Worship the King all glorious above

In 2000, Margaret K. Dismore made a discovery that put one publication on hold, and another one into motion. After a century and a half of doubt and confusion, the mystery of the composer of the tune LYONS was solved. Was it Haydn? Was it Mozart? Continue reading to find out…

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Of the Father's Love begotten

Even though this hymn is most often sung at Christmastime, it actually has very little to do with the Christmas story. Rather, this hymn asserts the divine nature of Christ, something we should be singing about all the time!

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Oh, How I Love Jesus

Although this song is heavily associated with the camp meetings of nineteenth-century America, most of the text was in fact written in England by an English clergyman.

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On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry

John Chandler apparently didn’t know his history very well. When he translated Charles Coffin’s Latin text for this hymn into English, he put it in a book of medieval verse, even though it was written in 1736!

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On Jordan's stormy banks I stand

This hymn is one example of the breadth of Christian hymnody, with stanzas by an English minister, a camp-meeting refrain, and a tune from William Walker's Southern Harmony.

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Once in Royal David's City

In 1848, Cecil F. Alexander published a book of hymns for children, containing thirteen hymns she had written to explain the Apostles' Creed. This hymn is one of three of these that are still in common use.

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Onward, Christian Soldiers

Though this hymn, with its overt martial images, is rather controversial in a time when the church throughout the world prefers to focus on peace, it is still quite popular.

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Our Great Savior

This twentieth-century hymn text by a Presbyterian evangelist was written for one of the most popular of all hymn tunes.

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Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

This short text was originally the final stanza to three longer texts, but has become one of the best-known single hymns stanzas in the English-speaking world.

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Praise, my soul, the King of heaven

We can only imagine the thoughts going through Elizabeth II’s mind as she walked down the aisle to marry her beloved Phillip, with all the world watching. How reassuring to do so while listening to the triumphant declaration of praise to the “King of Heaven,” who is Lord of all, and who assures us that everything is in His hands.

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Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

This hymn was given the royal treatment - it was the favorite of Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia. In this case, I think we can all agree that this king had good taste in Church music.

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Rejoice, the Lord is King!

Charles Wesley's hymn was written to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It does not stop there, but goes on to celebrate the Ascension and anticipate the Second Coming, realizing a fuller meaning of what is celebrated at Easter.

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Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart

This hymn was written to accompany the procession of several assembled choirs for a choral festival at an English cathedral, and has prompted an American composer to write a modern setting for a processional in an American cathedral.

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Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

This spiritual does not tell a historically accurate story, but it contains an important message about life priorities.

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Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Augustus Toplady wrote a magazine article in 1776 in which he computed that, if a person sinned “only at the rate of one sin for every minute,” by age eighty, he or she would have committed 42,048,000 sins! He concluded his article with the text of this hymn.

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Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

We know very little about this hymn, except that it has blessed Christians for two centuries with its words of trust and prayer, giving us the words to ask our God to provide for us.

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Shall We Gather at the River?

Robert Lowry wished to be known more as a preacher than as a hymn writer, but the multitude of people who have sung this hymn, which is his most popular one, have decided otherwise.

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Silent Night, Holy Night

This is by far the best known and most loved sacred Christmas carol. There are chapels and museums dedicated to it, a Silent Night Association, and more stories about how this hymn came into existence than there are words in the carol!

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Sing praise to God who reigns above

This widely popular German hymn has been translated numerous times and is the only one of Johann Schütz's hymns to appear in English-language hymnals.

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Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Dwight L. Moody is reported to have told Will Thompson, the author of this hymn, “I would rather have written 'Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling' than anything I have been able to do in my whole life.”

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Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart

In this very personal and well-known hymn, the singer calls to mind various places in Scripture concerning Christian love and the Holy Spirit.

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Sweet Hour of Prayer

Do you eagerly anticipate vacations, and feel a sudden sense of relief and bliss when you head out for a trip and leave the pressures of the everyday world behind? That is the attitude that the author of this hymn had toward the daily time of prayer.

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Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

No one is quite sure how this happened, but in the early twentieth century, this African American spiritual became a drinking song sung after rugby games in England. In 1988, a group of school boys sang it during the last match of England against Ireland, and it quickly caught on until the whole English crowd was singing the song. In 1991, it became the official theme song of the English rugby team, and is sung with gusto and pride today at every match.

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Take My Life, and Let It Be

Author Frances Havergal took her own lyrics quite seriously. A few years after she wrote the words of this hymn, “Take my silver and my gold,” she felt called to heed her own words and donated all her jewelry and ornaments to the Church Missionary House, save for a brooch and a locket.

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The Birthday of a King

William Neidlinger was best known in his time for his books of songs for young children, but this song is his only enduring work.

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The Church's one foundation

How beloved is this hymn? According to the Lutheran Hymnal Handbook, “Archbishop Temple is supposed to have once said that whenever he was called on to visit a country parish, he could always count upon two things: ‘cold chicken and The Church’s One Foundation.’”

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The Day of Resurrection

This eighth-century hymn of celebration was traditionally sung at midnight on Easter in the Greek church.

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The First Noel the Angel Did Say

This carol with folk origins is one of our best-loved Christmas hymns, but despite the opening reference to the shepherds, it is all about the wise men and the star.

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The God of Abraham Praise

The original Hebrew text for this hymn was written in the twelfth century by the famous Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides. A Wesleyan preacher in the eighteenth century brought this Jewish song into a Christianized form.

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The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Of all the numerous paraphrases of Psalm 23, Henry Baker's is one of the most popular, and justly so. His vivid interpretation repeatedly recalls the image of Christ the Good Shepherd, wedding both Old and New Testament imagery.

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The Old Rugged Cross

George Bennard wrote about his experience writing this hymn, “I saw the Christ of the cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption."

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The strife is o'er, the battle done

Being brilliant isn’t only about coming up with original ideas. Both the text and tune of this hymn were based on pre-existing music, written many years before this hymn. In this beautiful adaptation of a Latin text and an Italian mass, the author and composer have given the church a beautiful Easter hymn.

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There Is a Balm in Gilead

In Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven,” the speaker asks the bird, “Is there balm in Gilead? Tell me truly I implore.” The broad use of the phrase “balm of Gilead” in books, movies, plays, and music proves the universal power of this Biblical message of our hope in Christ. This gentle hymn of comfort assures us of that truth, and encourages us to continue to tell all people of God’s love.

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There Is a Fountain

Described by some as “gross and repulsive in its conception and language,” and “intense and impassioned” by others, this is a hymn with a first line that has been in question since it first appeared more than two centuries ago (Lutheran Hymnal Handbook).

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There's a Song in the Air

This hymn is an excellent reminder of why music is such an important part of celebrating Christmas – the angels welcomed Jesus in song.

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This is my Father's world And to my listening ears

The opening lines of “The Shire Theme” from Lord of the Rings is one of the most recognized motifs from any recent movie score. What makes it even more recognizable is that Howard Shore, the piece’s composer, used the first seven notes of “This is My Father’s World” verbatim as the first line of the melody!

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Thou didst leave thy throne

Although this hymn is usually sung for Advent or Christmas, it really tells the story of all of Jesus' life, from His birth to His ascension. The focus is on the contrast between Christ's divine reality and the humble way He lived on earth.

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'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

In a world full of death, poverty, and war, what better response is there for a Christian believer than to affirm, in the words of a woman who had suddenly lost her husband, “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus!”

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To God Be the Glory

Even though author Fanny Crosby was an American, this hymn was more widely known in England than in the States for many years until it was finally re-introduced to the American public in 1945 at a Billy Graham crusade.

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Trust and Obey

This popular gospel hymn has its origins in a testimony meeting at a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic tour.

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Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying

In 1597, Philipp Nicolai's parish was struck with a pestilence that killed 1300 people in six months. During that time, when he performed burial services daily, Nicolai began to meditate on the life to come. One of the results of his contemplation was this hymn.

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We Gather Together

For many people, the opening words of this hymn “We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing” might evoke memories of sitting down to a Thanksgiving Day feast, but its real message has nothing to do with turkey.

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We Praise Thee, O God

In comparison with England and America, small countries such as the Netherlands can become quite lost in the world of hymnody. The tune for this hymn, however, is the most widely distributed of any Dutch hymn tune, and is recognized and loved around the world.

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We three kings of Orient are

Despite its historical inaccuracy, this hymn is one of our best-loved songs for Epiphany, because its tune and opening text give the impression of being in the Middle East.

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Were You There

When we get together with old friends, it’s almost a guarantee that much of our time will be spent in “Remember Whens,” reliving the experiences we’ve shared, whether good or bad. In the same way, this old spiritual allows us to come together as a people to remember our shared story, a story of suffering and of hope.

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What a Friend We Have in Jesus

The author of this hymn, Joseph Scriven, never intended for his text to be published. As it is now one of the most-loved hymns of assurance, we can be glad that his original intention was never realized!

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What Child Is This

The tune of this hymn was mentioned by Shakespeare in a number of his plays, not the least of which was The Merry Wives of Windsor, where Falstaff writes to Mrs. Ford: “I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words: but they do no more adhere and keep pace together, than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of Green Sleeves.”

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What Wondrous Love Is This

Answering the call to redeem all things, the meter of “What Wondrous Love is this?” comes straight from an old English ballad about the infamous pirate, Captain Kidd.

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When I survey the wondrous cross

It is often said that Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts compete for the spot of “Father of hymnody.” If we go by what Wesley says, Watts has him beat, for Wesley is said to have thought this hymn text was better than anything he had ever written, and hymnologists around the world claim this to be Watt’s finest hymn text.

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When Morning Gilds the Skies

There are almost as many versions of this hymn as there are hymnals, but the one thing that is consistent among all of them is the constant refrain, “May Jesus Christ be praised.”

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When Peace, Like a River

According to hymnologist Ira Sankey, “This hymn was heard by a gentleman who had suffered great financial reverses in the panic of 1899, and who was in the deepest despondency. When he learned the story of the hymn he exclaimed: ‘If Spafford could write such a beautiful resignation hymn, I will never complain again’” (My Life and Sacred Songs, 127).

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While shepherds watched their flocks

When Nahum Tate died, he left behind debts and his contribution (along with Nicholas Brady) to a well-known paraphrase of the Psalms. This Christmas hymn of his is a paraphrase of the story of the shepherds and angels from Luke 2.

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Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim

This hymn was written in the face of religious persecution in England, yet its author, Charles Wesley, was still able to extol the power and glory of God.

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Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

It seems odd that a hymn whose first two stanzas lists the Orthodox orders of angels and call to the Virgin Mary should still appear in Protestant hymnals over a hundred years later, but J. Athelstan Riley does a wonderful job of reminding us how vast the throng is that worships God.

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