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28 hymns to sing before you die.

28 HYMNS TO SING BEFORE YOU DIE, John M. Mulder and F. Morgan Roberts, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock - Cascade Books, 2014, Pp. 206 + xxi, pb, npi. Reviewed by J. Harold Ellens.

John M. Mulder and F. Morgan Roberts have prepared a sensitive worshipful volume of 2 8 Hymns to Sing Before You Die. It has a new Foreward by Eugene H. Peterson. This book is a pleasant surprise. Each hymn is presented with Mulder's intersting history of its lyrics and music. There follows an equally brief pastoral-meditation on the theology of each hymn.

The first hymn addressed is The Day of Resurrection, followed by All Glory, Laud, and Honor. That sets the course for this impressive little volume. The very last hymns are Crown Him with Many Crowns, There's a Wideness in God's Mercy, and The Church's One Foundation. So now you have the code for this entire work. It is dominantly Christological, as is historic orthodox theology; however, there is an appropriately strong strain throughout of Theology Proper. If you do not remember what Theology Proper is, go back and read Louis Berkof's Systematic Theology.

This dual stream of Christology and Theology Proper is further illustrated by the fact that in the middle of the book Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah is immediately followed by All Hail the Power of Jesus Name. Hymns 9 and 10 in the collection are Our God Our Help in Ages Past followed immediately by O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and Christ our Lord is Risen Today. You can see that the pattern persists.

Mulder is a Princetonian, consummate church historian, and former president of The Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, as well as the prime mover in relocating the headquarters of the PCSUSA from New York to Louisville, KY. So he knows of what he speaks in his history of these hymns. F. Morgan Roberts is the most profound and pastoral preacher I have ever known. He pastured numerous large and illustrious churches and taught at Louisville Seminary in his retirement from pasturing. Now he tutors minority children in elementary schools in Florida to love to read. He speaks to these hymns with the sensitive and seasoned heart of a pastor.

This book will delight every on of its readers. It is accessible to high school students, attention getting for undergraduates, graduates, and professors who have a properly broad interest in the aesthetics and sacredness of life. There should be at least five of those out there! This inexpensive little volume should be given to every seminary graduate along with his diploma.

In the second edition of this volume some care needs to be taken to include the full text of the hymns. A few are missing some verses and a couple are missing final lines--obviously a fallen angel printer's devil was mucking with the details. This book has been given something less than the most exciting title possible--chosen by the publisher, I understand. It might better have been titled, "Rejoice and Sing!" Nonetheless, you will be glad you bought this volume and you will want to keep it handy for frequent referral in the long future of your life or ministry. I have it in the case just behind my desk among the small collections of special reference works. I find myself checking it regularly for a special point of hymnic history or a nicely crafted line for a sermon. I recommend that you do the same.

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Author:Ellens, J. Harold
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Christianity
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2017
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