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History of Hymns: ‘Alas! and Did’ explores our response to the cross

“Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed” belongs to a much larger family of Passion hymns which serve as rhapsodies on the wonder of “forensic justification” (a theological term meaning that through Christ’s sacrifice we receive a righteousness that is not our own). Indeed, Watts’ chief competitor in this category is probably . . . also Watts.

History of Hymns: Hymn contrasts agony of the cross, victory in Christ

Pratt Green wrote this haunting and beautiful text in 1972 in response to a letter from Francis Westbrook. Pratt Green and Westbrook, a composer, often worked together and wrote frequently to each other. Their correspondence is preserved in Pratt Green’s scrapbooks, which are held at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

History of Hymns: ‘Lord, Speak to Me’ voices prayer for guidance

“Lord, Speak to Me” is not a hymn of rejoicing in the arrival at the end of the journey, but of perseverance and momentum in the working out of the journey. Written in 1872, this hymn predates Havergal’s consecration experience by about a year and a half. In its text, we can easily perceive a person earnestly seeking to contribute more to the work of God’s kingdom.

History of Hymns: German hymn praises Christ’s ‘Boundless Love’

Wesley most likely came upon this hymn in the Herrnhut Collection of Count Zinzendorf, which, according to Methodist hymnologist Robert McCutchan in Our Hymnody, would have been the hymnal the Moravians used.

History of Hymns: ‘Cast Out’ applies to all with personal demons

Dr. Bringle’s fresh and captivating texts bring biblical passages to life in unique ways. Her text “Cast Out, O Christ” (2006) focuses on the Gerasene demoniac whom Jesus healed.

History of Hymns: Translated German hymn points us toward hope

The German hymn “Jesu, meine Freude” which literally means “Jesus, my joy,” is the model for Catherine Winkworth’s translation. It was written by Johann Franck, who was born in Guben, a small town in Brandenburg. His birth year, 1618, was the first year of the Thirty Years’ War, one of the most violent wars humanity has ever seen. An advocate by profession, Franck wrote both sacred and secular poems.

History of Hymns: Ash Wednesday hymn guides us toward hope

If one were asked to describe Brian Wren to a complete stranger, what would be the choice of words? Some might choose hymn writer, while others might propose that he is a musical theologian. I would suggest that he is a scriptural architect.

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 […]

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