According to mythology, when St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland in the 5th century, King Logaire of Tara decreed that no one was allowed to light any fires until a pagan festival was begun by the lighting of a fire on Slane Hill. In a move of defiance against this pagan ritual, St. Patrick did light a fire, and, rather than execute him, the king was so impressed by his devotion that he let Patrick continue his missionary work.
"Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun" by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
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.
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.
In this hymn, we extol the power, wisdom, and goodness of God as seen in the created order. We recognize that it is God who has made all these beautiful wonders, and that it is He who keeps the world in order through His ever-present care. Use the link below to find out additional information about how this hymn can be used in a worship service.
This hymn is one of the oldest hymns still sung. Traditionally in the Greek church, the celebration of Christ's resurrection began at the stroke of midnight on Easter Sunday, with the lighting of candles, jubilant greetings, and the singing of this hymn. It was as if the Church could not contain her joy any longer than she had to after the sorrowful contemplation of sin and its consequent suffering through Lent and Holy Week. The text bubbles over with “joy that hath no end” in the victory that Jesus Christ won over sin and death through His resurrection.
"Christ the Lord is Risen Today" by Charles Wesley(1708-1788)
In “The Story Told,” which is part two of the poem “The Old, Old Story” from which this hymn is taken, Katherine Hankey briefly summarizes the whole story of the Bible, from the Fall in Genesis 3 to Christ's birth, death, and resurrection to the “scenes of glory” in Revelation. This hymn is a good reminder that the story of God and His people throughout the ages should be a focus of Christians. When we speak to others of the gospel, we must tell them “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
"O God, Our Help in Ages Past" is a hymn is so popular in Great Britain that is has become known as the second national anthem of England!
This is one of the best-known African American spirituals in Christian history. Its source is the oral tradition of African Americans, but the concerts of the Fisk Jubilee Singers (PHH 476) and the Hampton Singers brought "Swing Low" to the attention of white audiences. J. B. T. Marsh includes an early version of text and tune in his The Story of the Jubilee Singers, with their Songs (1876 ed.).