Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Review #4: Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace by Kenneth W. Osbeck (Kregel Publications, 1990) is actually a daily devotional book, but bear with me. Subtitled, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, it is full of true stories that could spin ideas for both Christian and secular stories. Let me share a few here.

“O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) as a response to his father’s challenge to write something that could replace metrical psalms as the preferred music of a church service. He became known as the ‘father of English hymnody’.

“God Leads Us Along”, written by 19th century carpenter-preacher George A. Young after vandals burned his family’s struggled-for home to the ground because they didn’t like his message.

“From Greenland’s Icy Mountains”, a missionary hymn standard, written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826), who became an Anglican bishop to Calcutta where he died at the age of 43

“O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” written by George Matheson (1842-1902) whose college fiancee, upon learning that he was going blind, told him, “I do not wish to be the wife of a blind preacher.”

“Blest Be the Tie that Binds” written by John Fawcett (1740-1817) who, with his wife, ministered to an impoverished congregation At Wainsgate, England. Their wagons already loaded in preparation for moving to a better-paying parish, they realized they could not leave behind the congregants whom they loved.

“Jesus Loves Me” written by Anna B. Warner (1820-1915) who, with her sister Susan, wrote a now-forgotten novel, Say and Seal. But the words spoken by one of the characters to a dying child were later set to music and are known everywhere.

“I Would Be True” written as a personal creed by Howard A. Walter (1883-1918), a Princeton honor graduate, who died in the worldwide influenza epidemic in 1918 as he ministered in India.

“There Is a Fountain” by William Cowper (1731-1800) who, after completing his law studies dictated by his father, suffered a mental breakdown due to the stress of the upcoming bar exam, and spent 18 months in an asylum. He is remembered today as one of the finest of all English writers.

“Because He Lives” written by Bill (1936) and Gloria (1942) Gaither as they contemplated the chaotic world into which their son was born.

“Abide with Me” written by Anglican pastor Henry F. Lyte (1793-1847) shortly before his final sermon—for which, it is reported, that he almost had to crawl to the pulpit.

“Amazing Grace” written by John Newton (1725-1807) in response to his transformation from a slave trader to a man of God.

“Just As I Am” written by Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), known as “carefree Charlotte”, a portrait painter and poet, until a serious illness left her a depressed invalid at the age of 30.

“I’d Rather Have Jesus”, a poem by Mrs. Rhea F. Miller (1894-1966), which proved the deciding factor in George Beverly Shea’s decision to reject the opportunity for a secular singing career and remain in sacred music. He wrote the melody for the words.

“’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” written by Louisa M.R. Stead (c 1850-1917) who watched her husband drown while trying to save the life of a young boy at a picnic. She later spent 25 years as a missionary in Africa.

“Nothing Between” written by Charles A. Tindley (1851-1933), born into slavery and taken from his parents at the age of 5, who later became a pastor in Philadelphia.

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” written by Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993) after the death of his young wife and newborn son while he was at a revival meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. He eventually wrote 250 gospel songs.

“It Is Well with My Soul” written by Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888). After business reversals, he planned a European trip to lift his family’s spirits. Because he was detained at the last minute, his wife and four young daughters went ahead. During the voyage, another vessel struck their ship, causing it to sink in 12 minutes. Of the family, only Mrs. Spafford survived. Later, traveling to join his wife, Horatio Spafford stood at the rail of the ship as it passed the approximate point in the Atlantic where his daughters had died. Later he wrote the song which begins, When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll—Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well—it is well with my soul.”

So, if you're looking for inspiration to write--or just personal inspiration to live--check out this amazing volume.

FTC Disclaimer:  I own this book and have not been paid to review it.

1 comment:

K9friend said...

Often out of tragedy comes an amazing story. Thanks for the suggestions!