We treasure hymns for their messages of comfort or conviction or for their associations with beloved believers and meaningful events. But many hymns are also powerful works of devotional poetry—displaying levels of artistry that we easily miss when we are simply singing through them.
This anthology of great hymns invites us to experience these works as poems—to slow down and savor their well-turned phrases, their surprising metaphors, and their evocative language. English professor Leland Ryken provides historical background and literary analysis for each hymn, finishing each with a Scripture reading to accompany it. The result is a wonderfully devotional and poetic study of the Christian life, drawing on hymns such as “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Be Thou My Vision,” “In Christ Alone,” and many more.
“A foundation of powerful and beautiful hymns is essential in the development of a community of believers and the expression of God’s goodness through their lives. Thank you, Dr. Ryken, for this resource to the church.”
—Keith Getty, Award-Winning Hymnwriter, Musician
“The “lyric” of a song is a lyric poem. Sometimes the music draws all our attention, so that we skim over the words and what they mean. This is certainly true of hymns. Their lyrics are devotional poems of the highest order, and reading them closely can be a spiritual experience. Leland Ryken takes the texts of forty classic hymns and gives us just the help we need to understand their meaning and appreciate their greatness. In doing so, he helps Christians to realize why these time-honored hymns are such treasures.”
—Gene Edward Veith, Professor of Literature Emeritus, Patrick Henry College
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