Monday, February 11, 2008

Hymns, hymnists and hymn-singing

Apropos my last post …

Yesterday (Sunday), as is my custom, I went to my office after the choir left the loft during our 3rd morning service. My office is a block away from the choir room – quite literally, a block away – and on a Sunday morning it is a nice quiet place to spend a few minutes until that last service lets out. Then it’s back to the sanctuary, with people to greet, etc.

So, anyway, my hands full of music and books from the choir room, I found something in my “outside mail box.” You know: the lobby mailbox where I leave things for others to pick up when the office is closed, and vice versa.

Anyway: Apropos my last post, “The music minister’s bookshelf” …

The book was unwrapped, and had no note or inscription indicating the giver, purpose or occasion for the gift. Yet there it was, and now I have another book to add to my stack – or at least to the “to be read” shelf.

It is a 2007 volume in the Eerdmans Library of Religious Biography. These handsome paperbacks are under the general editorship of Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch and Allen Guelzo. I admire an earlier work in the series, Edith Blumhofer’s Now I Can See: the Life and Hymns of Fanny Crosby.

The book at hand is by John R. Tyson, and I can hardly wait to tear into it. Assist Me to Proclaim: the Life and Hymns of Charles Wesley comes at the conclusion of the 300th anniversary of Charles Wesley’s birth. Wesley holds a pretty firm place as “favorite English hymnist” for many, including myself. This promises to be an outstanding introduction to the facts of his life, and to many of his hymns familiar and not so familiar.

But where and how and when could I hope to add this gift to my reading queue? Happily I will be taking a short vacation soon, involving air travel, and now know what I will take along with me.

And it reminds me that I really short-changed my stack “in progress” – failing to mention the anthology of essays about Jonathan Edwards, A God-Entranced Vision of All Things. And something from Thomas Nelson’s project for the emerging church, “The Voice.” And, and, and, and …

Still reading on.

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