For those of us who grew up in the traditional, mainline churches the singing of hymns was an integral part of the Sunday morning service. Three or four hymns were intertwined throughout the various elements of the service, the congregation quite often being accompanied by a choir. Unfortunately over the last twenty or so years the singing of hymns has waned in many churches, being replaced by Contemporary Christian music.
The authors of some of the well known hymn lyrics only wrote one or two hymns during their lifetime, with composers adding music later. Others, however, wrote many hundreds and even thousands of hymns, not all of them well known. Charles Wesley, who, together with his brother John founded the Methodist church, is credited with writing 6500 hymns, an amazing feat.
What is fascinating, and often not told, are the stories behind the hymns. The circumstances which caused the writer to pen the lyrics were often tragic yet through it all, the writer was able to give glory to God “for the great things He has done”.
Following are just some of the lyrics and music of the great hymns and the stories behind them reproduced from 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Kenneth has provided very thorough and interesting accounts of the often personal tragedy and loss which lay behind many of the popular hymns. Today, we can be inspired to trust and have faith in our God by singing those great hymns and by understanding the circumstances behind them.