HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Standard Songs of the Church
Compiler: Michael Andrew Grissom
Publisher: Little Dixie Publishing Company, 2017
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Suitable for all ages
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Grissom, Michael Andrew. Standard Songs of the Church (published in 2017 by Little Dixie Publishing Company, 306 East Seminole, Wynnewood, OK 73098). It is not normally the practice of this book review blog to review hymnbooks, but I have made one exception before and am making another now. The newest general hymnbook published for use among churches of Christ is the 2017 Standard Songs of the Church compiled by Mike Grissom for the Little Dixie Publishing Company. With 363 selections, it is not a large volume but is more reminiscent of the size of books churches were using when I was growing up, such as Great Songs of the Church, Christian Hymns, Majestic Hymnal, Abiding Hymns, Christian Hymnal, and Great Christian Hymnal, in which, rather than having a bunch of unknown songs that were used to pad the content, hymns were chosen for quality rather than quantity.
The result is that instead of paying big bucks for a 700 to 900 selection hymnal and then singing only about 350 songs out of it anyway, a congregation pays just $10 a book and sings the vast majority of its hymns. Standard Songs of the Church has several advantages. The printing is crisp, clear, and easy to read. Almost all the hymns and gospel songs included are old standards that have stood the test of time and are beloved favorites. Grissom sought to include stanzas which have been dropped in many newer books and also use original wording rather than the changes that have been made by some editors to reflect personal opinions, views, or interpretations. Oh, I did notice one song that I do not think has been in any other hymnbook published by brethren, “Are Ye Able?” by Earl Marlatt and Harry S. Mason. But it is a good one that deserves more exposure among us.
Various people might quibble with this or that particular song, and some may complain about certain hymns not being included. No hymnbook is perfect. In a personal letter to me, Grissom wrote, “I had only $10,000 to spend on this project. With that kind of limit on what I could do, it was impossible to do a book of 900 songs.” If your mega-church is looking for a mega-book with all the latest repetitious 7-11 songs and other simplistic, modern ditties, such “blended worship” hymnals are available—for a mega-price. But if yours is a smaller congregation with perhaps slightly older folks of limited musical (and financial) abilities who prefer to praise God and admonish one other with songs that are “tried and true,” Standard Songs of the Church will fill the bill.