Randy Petersen describes hymn history as being similar to archaeology. Perhaps that comparison makes Petersen a type of Indian Jones, and like Jones, Petersen delivers. Be Still My Soul captures the reader’s attention from the start with its ragged pages giving evidence this is an ancient work, filled with knowledge long forgotten. Curiosity drives the quest to turn the pages.
Petersen’s exceptional scholarship brings to life the names pasted at the bottom of 175 hymns, names obscured by the dust of time. These were real people with real lives who left behind a vast treasury of doctrinal teaching, meaningful worship, and beautiful poetry. Some of the book’s revelations are startling. Isaac Watts was a rebel who grew tired of singing the same tired songs at church and set out to bring life to the music. Louis Bourgeois was jailed for revising psalm tunes without a license. And I dare complain when I sing 7-11 songs on Sunday mornings (7 words, repeated 11 times)!
Petersen adds a personal touch to the writing with anecdotes, musings, and testimonies. Anyone who has sung these songs while occupying a pew can relate. We have much for which to be thankful.
Useful features of the book include
- Several in-depth biographies
- Cross reference index for easy look-up of contributors or titles
- Index of first lines
One thing I did not find was a bibliography or source footnotes. Be Still My Soul is a valuable reference tool, and that addition would only increase its worth.
Who might be interested in owning a copy of Be Still My Soul?
- Believers needing a faith boost or freshness in their personal devotions. Read. Inhale deeply. Realize the rich heritage we enjoy as Christians.
- Praise leaders desiring to educate their congregations on the meaning behind the words of familiar songs.
- Pastors seeking high quality sermon illustrations.
Click the book image above to reach the publisher’s site for Be Still My Soul.
Note – Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of Be Still My Soul to facilitate this review.