Amazing Grace. Hymn Texts for Devotional Use. Edited by Bert Polman, Marilyn Kay Stulken, and James R. Sydnor. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994. 310 pp. Paper, $15.99.
It is a pleasure for one who already reads a hymn every day, along with the Bible and a devotional classic, to review a book that promotes this practice which is so enriching to a person’s spiritual life.
A leading hymnologist, Louis Fitz-Gerald Benson, is quoted in the preface on why a “home hymnal” with just words and no music is helpful: “Hymns that are not made personally familiar by devotional reading have not much spiritual influence… It is only the precedent appropriation of the hymn’s message by each individual heart that makes its congregational singing worthwhile” (p. vii).
The hymns are divided into four categories: God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, and Christian Life. These in turn have subdivisions. There is also an “Index of Authors, Translators, and Sources” and an “Index of First Lines and Titles.”
The hymns range from the early Christian centuries to the 1990s, and represent many traditions of Christianity. The book is rich in well-written, biblically sound hymns that can stand alone without music to put them across.
As in any hymnary, there are bound to be a few selections that some of us won’t like. However, this book is well worth adding to your daily devotions.
Arthur L. Farstad
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society