History of Hymns: Priest bases hymn on call to be ‘fishers of men’

Of his five hymns in the UM Hymnal, “Pescador de Hombres” (“Fisher of Men”), the original Spanish title, is the most popular and indeed, one of the more popular newer hymns in the hymnal. Written in 1979, “Tú has venido a la orilla” (the Spanish opening line) is based on the parallel passages found in the synoptic gospels on Jesus’ calling of his first disciples (Matthew 4:18-20; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11).

History of Hymns: Tindley hymn envisions journey toward heaven

Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) was one of the eminent preachers of Methodism at the turn of the 20th century. In a collection of Tindley hymns, Beams of Heaven (General Board of Global Ministries, 2006) Emory University hymnologist James Abbington calls Tindley a “pastor, orator, poet, writer, theologian, social activist, ‘father of African American Hymnody,’ ‘progenitor of African American gospel music’ and ‘prince of preachers.’”

History of Hymns: ‘Softly and Tenderly’ famed as invitation song

The genius of a gospel song is usually found in the refrain and this one is no exception. The refrain extends the invitation to “come home” four times in the melody, and an additional two times in the accompanying lower voices.

History of Hymns: ‘Alleluia! Give Thanks’ celebrates resurrection

Among the songs of this genre that has stood the test of time is “Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks” by Donald Emry Fishel (b. 1950). Following good folk song practice, the refrain of his tune ALLELUIA NO. 1 is easily learned and memorized after one hearing. The accompaniment and even the key in which the song is written (E Major) are perfect for the folk guitar, though most hymnals also make use of a piano version as well.

History of Hymns: Discipleship hymn comes from Filipino folk song

Developing Christian hymns in non-Western cultures requires a variety of techniques. One of those techniques is to take an existing melody, often a folk song, and pair it with a Christian text. Such is the case with “Dear Lord, lead me day by day.”

History of Hymns: Gospel song urges Christ to ‘Stand By Me’ during trials

One of the most famous of his many gospel songs is “Stand By Me,” for which he composed both the words and the music. It was included in a collection of hymns that he published in 1905, New Songs of Paradise, No. 6.

History of Hymns: Hymn celebrates both physical, mental healing

“O Christ, the Healer” Fred Pratt Green UM Hymnal, No. 265 O Christ, the healer, we have come to pray for health, to plead for friends. How can we fail to be restored when reached by love that never ends? * United Methodist Bishop Joel Martinez once said, “Each generation must add its stanza to […]

History of Hymns: American hymn first finds popularity in England

“To God Be the Glory” Fanny J. Crosby UM Hymnal, No. 98 To God be the glory, great things he hath done! So loved he the world that he gave us his Son, who yielded his life an atonement for sin, and opened the life-gate that all may go in. Praise the Lord, praise the […]

History of Hymns: French carol highlights animals in nativity story

“The Friendly Beasts” French Carol UM Hymnal, No. 227 Jesus, our brother, strong and good, was humbly born in a stable rude, and the friendly beasts around him stood, Jesus, our brother, strong and good. “The Friendly Beasts” probably originated in 12th-century France. Sometimes known as “The Song of the Ass,” “The Donkey Carol” or […]

History of Hymns: ‘There’s a Song in the Air’ dates from late romantic era

“There’s a Song in the Air” Josiah G. Holland UM Hymnal, No. 249 There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky! There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry! And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King! There is […]