"Agnus Dei" (Georges Bizet)

Talk of recycling or repurposing often includes tires, newspapers, pallets, books (shudder!), cooking oil and plastic bottles.  What does that have to do with music?  Of all man-made things, music is surely towards the top of the list of things that have been recycled.  A few notes, a phrase, a theme or entire song may show…

"Comfort, Comfort Ye My People"

The hymn, Comfort, Comfort Ye My People, has been around for hundreds of years, but it may not be as familiar as some hymns of the same age.  Why?  Maybe because we only sing it once a year, during Advent.  Maybe because some congregations do not observe Advent.  Maybe, sadly, because some congregations no longer sing hymns. French…

"Eternal Father, Strong to Save"

I’m nervous around water.  Not the water-in-the-sink kind of water, but the it’s-over-my-head-and-I-can’t-swim kind of water.  Water makes a lot of people nervous.  Storms make a lot of people nervous.  Storms on the water can be downright terrifying.  Have you ever had any storms in your life?  Those can be terrifying, too. William Whiting was the headmaster of…

"Shall We Gather At the River"

Multi-talented Roberty Lowry (1826-1899) was a professor of literature, a Baptist, and a music editor at Biglow Publishing Company. Lowry once said, “I would rather preach a gospel sermon to an appreciative, receptive congregation than write a hymn,” yet he wrote nearly 500 hymns and gospel songs, including “Shall We Gather At the River,” “I…

"It Is Well With My Soul"

Their story began quite happily.  Anna Larson was young, lovely and intelligent.  Horatio Spafford was a businessman and senior partner in a successful law firm.  They married in 1861 when Anna was 19 and Horatio was 33, and had a beautiful home in Chicago.  They were devout and active Christians, Ira Sankey and Dwight Moody…

"O Love That Will Not Let Me Go"

A personal favorite of mine, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go was written by pastor and scholar George Matheson, D.D. (1842-1906).  Matheson wrote, “My hymn was com­posed in the manse of In­ne­lan [Ar­gyle­shire, Scot­land] on the ev­en­ing of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone…