In the fall of last year, (LCMS) Rev. Robin D. Fish released a great book: Useful Hymns: For Worship, Prayer, and Instruction in the Lutheran Church School and Home. I blogged about it back then and now I happily offer my Useful Hymns review.
Useful Hymns Review
It takes a rare gift to be able to write stanzas and set them to tunes. Rarer still is the ability to present them in an approachable, helpful, useful manner. This is a great book.
The hymns are arranged by church year and topic, so there is always a good place to start. Topics include:
- Liturgical Hymns (Sometimes you just need more Magnificat or Te Deum!)
- Catechetical Hymns, arranged accordingly
- Scriptural Meditation
- Church and Ministry
- Heroes of Faith
- Noah/ A Type of Baptism
- Abraham/For Justifying Faith
- Jacob/Wrestling with God
- Joseph/Blessing through Affliction
- Moses/ Strength in Weakness
- Joshua/For a Devout Heart
- David/The Gift of Penitence
- Elijah/Strength for Faithful Ministry
- Isaiah/For Christ-Centered Ministry
- Daniel/For Faithful Testimony
- Minor Prophets/ Warning and Promise
- Four Evangelists/ Power of the Gospel
- Twelve Apostles/For the Apostolic Faith
- Women of the Faith
- Timothy/For Faithful Youth
- Onesimus & Philemon/Honor in Humble Service
- Seven Churches of the Apocalypse/ For Perseverance
- Comfort and Encouragement
- Care of the Community (Another great selection of topics!)
- Hymns for Children
- Translated Hymns (Mostly Christmas hymns)
- Original Tunes to Existing Hymns (Including some great texts from other contemporary Lutheran hymn writers)
- Plus handy features like full accompaniment, index of first lines, index of tunes, etc.
Quite simply this is a wealth of Lutheran hymnody. Each page offers the title, a few lines of melody in musical notation, and the text. (Again, full accompaniment is in the back.)
Rev. Fish, I am duly impressed by the depth and breadth of this work, and furthermore your own musical settings!
Whether you sing in your meditation and contemplation or you just want another solid tool for your family devotions, this is well-worth your time. I mean, I can see homeschoolers memorizing some of these. Admittedly, it’s a lot to digest if you want to just sit down and read, but it’s an excellent selection to add to your Christian practices. Even if you aren’t a singer, the poetry is Christocentric, Bible-based, and good for the soul.