Rediscover the profound insights of Christian hymnody with this exploration of the messages of twenty-five hymns of the Christian faith.
You will never sing these hymns the same way again. With careful exposition and thoughtful reflection, the author shows how biblical truths are encapsulated in a hymn's lyrics, stanza by stanza or even in a single line of a single verse.
Some of these hymns are: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; Holy, Holy, Holy; Great Is Thy Faithfulness; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; Amazing Grace; Fairest Lord Jesus. Softcover, 190 pages.
Nearly everyone has heard the story of John Newton, a slave trader who, in the
midst of a furious storm at sea, called out for mercy to a God he didn't
really believe in. Convinced by his own survival, he converted, became a
celebrated preacher and wrote Christendom's most famous hymn, "Amazing Grace."
Tales like this populate a host of recently published hymn-story books. These
volumes are plain in diction and pious in tone-not theologically deep, but not
harmful, either: chicken soup for the church musician's soul. This book fits
right into the genre. A pastor and musician, Farmer looks at 25 spiritually
nourishing hymns to explore their meaning for the Christian journey. Each
three- to four-page essay contains, in a homiletic style, some exposition of
the hymn text, a bit of background information, a few illustrative stories and
other supporting material. Sometimes Farmer offers helpful information or
insights-for example, a nice explanatory turn on the word "Ebenezer" raised
in the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." But given the theological
depth and complexity of these hymn texts (including standards such as "A
Mighty Fortress," "How Firm a Foundation" and "For All the Saints"), the
simplicity of his treatments is somewhat disappointing. Sometimes he tackles
only a small portion of the text, and sometimes the hymn is simply the
jumping-off point for what feels like a practiced spiel. Still, one could do
far worse, devotionally, than to start with these well-chosen hymns, read
Farmer's commentary and then return to the hymns themselves. (Jan.)
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