HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: With One Heart, with One Voice
Author: Hal Hammons
Publisher: One Stone, 2014
Related website: http://www.OneStone.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults, though suitable for anyone
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hammons, Hal. With One Heart, with One Voice (published in 2014 by One Stone Biblical Resources, 979 Lovers Lane, Bowling Green, KY 42103). I began leading singing as a teenager, so I have a nearly 45-year interest in church music. I studied church music in college. I have taught singing schools, led singing in lectureships, and presented entire gospel meetings of “sermons in song.” Through the years I have preached and written on the subject of music in worship. For the last almost ten years I have posted regular hymn studies to an e-mail list. Some of them have even been collected in a book entitled Songs of Zion published by Faith and Facts Press. My collection includes literally hundreds of hymnbooks and dozens of books with the background stories of hymns along with their authors and composers. I have never seen fit to review any of those books on my book review weblog because I did not think that they would be of general interest.
However, a new book has appeared that I think is worth note. With One Heart, with One Voice by Hal Hammons is intended as a six months class study. There are twelve lessons, discussing a dozen different Biblical topics—joy, prayer, trust, endurance, praise, love, Bible study, service, hope, spiritual warfare, following, and teaching. However, each one is also divided into two sections, the first illustrated by a more traditional hymn or gospel song, and the second by a more contemporary number. In addition to information about the topic and the hymn, there are sections explaining the lyrics and providing some musical instruction, along with some questions for discussion.
According to the promotional material, the book is intended to bring the student back to the basics of spiritual singing. Readers will be introduced to some new songs, and re-introduced to some older ones. They will learn a bit about hymn writers — their stories, their backgrounds, their motivations. And they will receive some basic instruction regarding what music means and how to sing it better. Most of all, though, the user will come to appreciate more how the words and the music in our hymns combine to communicate God’s word and help it stick in the minds and hearts of believers. Of course, I have a built-in interest in the subject, and I have some strong opinions about the kinds of music that is suitable for worship, but I believe that this study will be beneficial for any congregation or even any individual who is concerned about learning how to praise God better.