Stories of Hymns

The History Behind 100 of Christianity's Greatest Hymns

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Listen to an interview with Fr. George Rutler discussing this book: Play

Hymns are more than beautiful musical compositions; they provide us with a heightened language for praising and speaking to God, all while teaching us theology that reflects both the depth and complexity of Our Lord.

Sacred hymns in our day have given way to “fifth-rate poetry set to fourth-rate music,” as C.S. Lewis once remarked. At times, the music used in worship can make us feel as though the culture is usurping the Church rather than being transfigured by it. There is a clear and present need to resurrect those distinctively different songs with a distinctively different vocabulary for people who want to live distinctive lives as followers of Christ.

In these pages, Fr. George William Rutler introduces and reflects upon dozens of the greatest hymns written from the earliest years of the Church through the Twentieth Century. The text and composition of each hymn is included, as well as inspiring accounts of their authors and composers, fascinating stories and historical events connected with them, and notes on the significant contributions each one made to theology and music.

Fr. Rutler has recovered here a rich musical legacy that will help us to give glory to our God who is Lord of all.

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Editorial Reviews

"Father Rutler here considers nearly 100 hymns of fine artistic and theological quality, giving interesting information about the texts, the music, and the composers. With hymns assuming so large a role in today’s worship, Fr. Rutler proposes to enrich both the selection and the understanding of an ancient form that still has a great deal of life in it."

Msgr. Richard Schuler
Former Editor, Sacred Music

"Father Rutler’s ecumenical selection of hymns and his illuminating comments on the history of each are a great restorative to the liturgical devastation of the past decades. As usual, Father Rutler not only entertains, but instructs."

Robert Reilly Reilly
Music Critic

"This is a classy book with the hymns and the marvelous scholarly annotations by the inimitable Father Rutler. Indispensable to every library."

William F. Buckley, Jr.

Product Details

  • Pages: 288
  • Format(s): Paperback, eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-68278-024-4
  • Product Code: Q80244
  • Availability: In Stock
Father Rutler Set bundle

Customer Reviews

432103 reviews
43211
You think you know hymns? Think again!
The Stories of Hymns is a 300 page book that provides the history of "100 of Christianity's greatest hymns." Each chapter begins with the full text of the hymn. After that, there is a couple of pages giving context and history for the hymn, as well as some explanation of the hymn where necessary. Before I picked up this book, I admit that I went in a bit arrogant, thinking I would recognize 90% of these hymns. After all, I grew up Baptist, and they love to sing! And now that I am Catholic, I figured I had been exposed to most all Christian music. WRONG! In fact, I didn't recognize 90% of these hymns. This was very humbling, and I not only learned so much about the hymns that I knew, but I learned about so many other hymns. Before reading through this book, I used to flip through the hymnal and notice names and years, but not really thinking about it. After this book, I now see so much more. I know not only when these were hymns written but why they were written. If you are a lover of hymns or know someone who is, then this is a book that belongs in their life. I would definitely consider getting one for your music minister if they don't already have it, as it will be edifying for them and could lead them into an even deeper ministry, which will be good for them and the church they serve.
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Interesting and informative.
Bought this for a clergy friend who loves traditional hymns. He loved it. The descriptions of each hymn are brief and concise, but very interesting.
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Fr. Geo. Rutler writes another wonderful book
I have sung most of these hymns for years. Sometimes noticing the names, years, composers, but never thought about their history. This book by Fr. Rutler gives a lot of detail and history. I am enjoying reading, especially my favorites!
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