The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs


Book: The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs

Authors: William Petersen and Ardythe Petersen

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1607514466 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 160751446X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1414309330 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1414309330 Paperback

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: Teens and adults but suitable for anyone

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Non-fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Petersen,William, and Petersen, Ardythe. The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs (Published in 2006 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, IL  60188).  In his foreword, co-author William Petersen wrote, “Admittedly, the title of this book is not entirely accurate.  Probably it should have been called The Almost Complete Book of Stories about Hymns, Gospel Songs, Contemporary Praise and Worship, Southern Gospel, Spirituals, Etc.”  However, The Complete Book of Hymns does bring to life the stories behind more than 600 hymns and worship songs, with background on the composer, the inspiration behind the lyrics, scriptural references for devotional consideration, and a sampling of the song lyrics.  This book is the largest collection of the stories behind the most popular hymns and praise songs.

     There are rich stories behind the popular hymns and praise songs that are sung today.  Many of them are well known, while others may be a bit more obscure to various people.  A lot of traditional hymns and gospel songs are represented such as “Amazing Grace” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” but some of the more Contemporary Christian Music style of praise and worship songs are also included like “Shout to the Lord” and “Awesome God,” so everyone should find something that he or she prefers. The book is divided by subject into 24 parts.  At the end, there are a bibliography and three indices—hymn titles; authors, translators, arrangers, and sources; and themes.  The Petersens bring out the message of these great songs of the faith like never before.

     The biggest complaint I saw about this book was expressed by two critics.  One wrote, “’The list of hymns is nice, but where are the notes!! I wanted to be able to sing with it. A bit disappointed!”  The other said, “I would have thought that a book described as ‘The Complete Book of Hymns’ would have included sheet music and complete lyrics. It does not. All the hymn books I have ever seen include the lyrics and the sheet music for piano. This is a real disappointment.”  Hey, folks, just a little heads up.  This is NOT a hymn book or hymnal, but a book of hymn stories.  With this understanding, it is a very useful and well presented book that puts context to one’s favorite hymns, with short Readers Digest type histories and biographies of the world’s most familiar religious music, and is to be highly recommended to anyone interested in spiritual songs.

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