Saturday, February 1, 2014

Song Stories: a review of Be Still My Soul

If you like hymns then you will love this book.  One hundred seventy five hymns are printed on the left side of the page with music, and a one page 'backstory' about the hymn on the right side.  Randy Petersen has done a great job of selecting songs for this book: some ancient, some modern; some familiar, some rare; traditional and non-traditional.

My biggest beef is the binding.  The paperback cover is flimsy and seems out of place on a book that deserves a permanent place in family libraries.

There are a few other quibbles.  He uses the modern alterations for "Come Thou Fount" (dropping the exquisite 'Ebenezer' and 'interposed') and doesn't even mention the author's alleged apostasy.  Nor does he tell us whether Horatio Spafford really did go off the deep end late in life.  Charles the First was executed, not exiled, and William Featherstone's "I'll love thee in death" verse gets the ax too.  (If you're confused, sorry, you'll just have to read the book.)

Nevertheless, Petersen delivers considerable knowledge of music, poetry, theology, and history in these pages.  I thought I was well-read about hymns until I read this book.  But he's not just a knowledgeable writer, he's also a good writer.  He knows how to use words, not just music.  While not quite as "devotional" in style as Guye Johnson's Treasury of Great Hymns, I still would rate Be Still My Soul as my favorite hymn history book.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.  

1 comment:

  1. would love to have a copy of this in my home - do they happen to ship to Malaysia?