How Sweet the Sound: The Message of Our Best-Loved Hymns, By Richard Allen Farmer

How Sweet the Sound

The Message of Our Best-Loved Hymns

by Richard Allen Farmer

How Sweet the Sound
  • Length: 191 pages
  • Published: December 05, 2003
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3240
  • ISBN: 9780830832408

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From generation to generation, Christianity is passed down not only through words that are spoken but also through words that are sung. The church's life and vitality has often been profoundly shaped by the great hymns of the faith.

But there is more to hymns than classic melodies and stately lyrics. Embodied and preserved in our hymns are the key doctrines of Christian belief. When we think of God's character and attributes, we speak of him as a mighty fortress, a bulwark never failing. When we consider his goodness to us, we remember that great is his faithfulness. And when we think of God's life-transforming power, we sing of amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Musician and preacher Richard Allen Farmer explores the messages of twenty-five of the greatest hymns of the Christian faith. With careful exposition and thoughtful reflection, he shows how biblical truths are encapsulated in a hymn's lyrics, stanza by stanza or even in a single line of a single verse. His consideration of familiar texts uncovers fresh meaning and new significance for the Christian journey.

Rediscover the profound insights of Christian hymnody. You will never sing these hymns the same way again.


Section 1: About God
1. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing: Inviting God In
2. A Mighty Fortress: A Celebration of Strength
3. Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise: A Focused View of God
4. Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah: A Pilgrim's Plea
5. How Firm A Foundation: Goodbye to Quicksand
6. Holy, Holy, Holy: A God Like No Other
7. Great Is Thy Faithfulness: A Portrait of God's Trustworthiness

Section 2: About Christ
8. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel: Imagining a Pre-Christian Condition
9. And Can It Be? Overwhelmed by Wonder
10. Amazing Grace: When God Reaches Down
11. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name: A Global Call to Worship
12. Fairest Lord Jesus: Going Beyond the Beautiful Scenery
13. In the Garden: An Invitation to an Emotional Experience
14. In the Cross of Christ I Glory: A Symbol That Changes Us
15. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today: The Song of the Empty Tomb
16. O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go: Locked Up and Free

Section 3: About the Church
17. Blest Be the Tie That Binds: Celebrating the Family of God
18. Soldiers of Christ, Arise: A Call to Appropriate Militarism
19. We Gather Together: Daring to Approach
20. For All the Saints: A Reminder About Our Current Status
21. Rescue the Perishing: A Duty Toward the Pre-Christian

Section 4: About Worship
22. O Come, All Ye Faithful: An Invitation to Worship
23. It Is Well: To Serve God Even Though . . .
24. Breathe on Me, Breath of God: Claiming the Energizing Wind
25. Angels We Have Heard on High: A Song for All Seasons

Epilogue: On the Playing, Singing and Place of Hymns



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Farmer (M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary) is a classically trained pianist, concert artist and Bible expositor whose itinerant music and preaching ministry has taken him to hundreds of churches and dozens of countries. Prior to his present ministry he served as a senior pastor and as dean of the chapel at both Gordon College and Taylor University. He has been awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Gordon College (1996) and the honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology degree by Houghton College (1999).