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101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring True Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns Review by Kathy Gelzer

Kenneth W. Osbeck
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607
Grand Rapids, MI 49501

Having been practically raised in the church, I mourn the demise of hymn singing in many services today. But there are those who recognize the timelessness of hymns. I am heartened by the resurrection of hymn singing by a local church that caters to the twenties crowd and is led in worship by a heavy rock band. They seem to have discovered something. Hymns can reconnect us to our roots. And the lyrics are often deeper, richer, and more focused on God's character than many of the contemporary worship songs out there.

In our homeschool, we try to begin each day with devotions, and in that devotional time we learn a different hymn each month. I have been reading some of the essays from 101 Hymn Stories to my children during this time. Though written to pastors and teachers rather than children (and the vocabulary and style of the book certainly reflect this), there are interesting details that stick in the children's minds. Parents may want to read the stories ahead of time and pick out short segments to read aloud to young children.

The book is comprehensive in its scope. The table of contents lists the 101 hymns alphabetically by title. A very moving preface by the author immediately grabs the reader with the inspiration and importance of hymns. Entries includes as many of the following as apply: hymn title, author, English translator, composer, tune name, meter, Scripture reference, a Bible quote, and the story behind the hymn. Quotes, poems, and a few photos are interspersed throughout. The book concludes with a bibliography and an index of authors, composers, translators, and tunes.

If you have any children who play hymns in their musical instrument studies, if you sing hymns (or used to) in church or at home, and especially if any of your children are leaning toward a career in church music, you will want to buy this book.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2007