It’s fascinating to read about the historical struggle the church has had with music. The early church sang “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” until music was taken from congregation and given to the clergy. But Christians kept on singing outside of church and a thousand years later hymns began to find their way back into worship services. There were the early “worship wars” between Psalm-only hymns and inspired poetry and a strained relationship between popular tunes and traditional forms. Many of today’s beloved “traditional hymns” were not intended for Sunday morning services, but for camp meetings and revivals. Morgan celebrates tradition, but reminds us that Christian music is always evolving.
One section worth reading are the “Six Hymn Stories I Love to Tell” where Morgan provides the longer version of the story behind “It is Well with My Soul” and the story of the sisters who wrote the most famous childrens’ hymn: “Jesus Loves Me.” Morgan makes a good case for reviving the hymnal as a devotional book and for embracing interwoven worship where old and new songs meet. I heartily agree.
I thoroughly enjoyed Morgan’s book and highly recommend it.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program.