About Me

The developer of this site, Robert Cottrill, went home to be with his Saviour on the 31st of August 2019, after a short illness. The site is maintained so that his work can continue to bless others.


I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I put my faith in Christ as my personal Saviour at the age of seven. My father was a church organist and choir director, and I was exposed early on to a wide variety of good music.

I attended Ontario Bible College (now Tyndale University College) and the University of Windsor, earning a Bachelor of Religious Education degree, as well as a B.A. in History.

After graduation, I engaged in vocational ministries for about 40 years, serving the Lord as a director of music, and as the senior pastor of several congregations. I also taught both Bible and music courses at Briercrest Bible College (Caronport, Saskatchewan), and Millar College of the Bible (Pambrun, Saskatchewan).

For the past decade I have written a weekly newspaper column on the subject of English hymnody, so far covering the history and biblical themes of over 600 selections. I have scripted and hosted two weekly radio programs that featured this material, have conducted many community hymn sings, led seminars on sacred music, and even taught basic hymnology to children (Grades 7-8).

I am a long-time contributor to the Cyber Hymnal, where the compiler has posted words and music (audio) for over 8,200 hymns ( www.hymntime.com/tch ). I also have my own website (www.Wordwise-Bible-Studies.com) which contains dozens of articles and Bible studies.

About My Beliefs
To help you to understand where I’m coming from: When I call myself a Christian, I mean that I have put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal and only Saviour from sin. My theology is conservative and evangelical. I hold to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and the fundamentals of the apostolic faith.

To boil it down to three basics, I believe in…

¤ The Inspired Book, the Bible, as my final authority (II Tim. 3:16-17)
¤ The Precious Blood of Christ shed to pay my debt of sin (I Pet. 1:18-19)
¤ The Blessed Hope of Christ’s imminent return (Tit. 2:13)

*For further information on my personal beliefs you can check out my Web site: Wordwise Bible Studies*



  1. Thank you Brother Bob for your efforts to reveal to us the spiritually rich and Biblical heritage out of which so many hymns have grown. The depths to which our souls are touched by the Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ in our trials and heartaches can yield a blessed harvest of nourishment as we recognize that we’re not alone in our experiences. The lives of living saints that have gone before us and the reality of the all powerful Christ within us will serve to encourage and embolden us as we follow the pilgrim path to glory, knowing that eternal life is a present experience, not mere wishful thinking, for those who have Christ as personal Saviour!

    • Thanks. You allude to a couple of important things. First, there’s the experience out of which our hymns were written. So many times, knowing a bit about the life of the song writer, or the circumstances that led to the writing of a particular number, gives it the stamp of reality, and makes it easier to associate the words to what’s happening in our own lives. The other thing is the sense of continuity this brings. There are hymns in our hymn books that were written centuries ago. Singing them strengthens that sense of a connection with the whole body of Christ through the Church Age, reminding us we’re part of something really, really big!

  2. What a wonderful site, Bob. Thank you for commenting in one of my blog sites about “Sweet Peace, the Gift of God’s Love.” Apparently, we have the same love for hymns. This blog of yours is very much related to mine:

    I’m gobsmacked by your banner “It is Well with My Soul” – an all-time favourite. I’ve bookmarked your wordwisehymns. I think we have very similar entries, too, with my Wayfarerpsalms.

    God bless,

    • Thanks for your words of appreciation. The study of our traditional hymns and gospel songs has been a passion for over 40 years. In my newspaper column, to date, I’ve discussed over 600 of them. Always good to know there is a kindred spirit out there. 🙂

  3. Are you the Robert who commented recently on my blog?
    If so – thanks!!

    • Yep, that was me. And your blog caught my eye because we seem to have a number of things in common, in addition to a love of our traditional hymnody. I’m a Baptist pastor with 40 years of ministry behind me. Newly semi-retired (emphasis on the “semi”!). I continue to preach occasionally, am in the latter stages of getting a book published (on carols and Christmas hymns) and am in the process of writing another. Though I live in Canada, I have a connection Britain. My father was born in Manchester, and my mother’s Scottish roots have been traced back to the Armour family from which Jean Armour, the wife of Robert Burns, came.

      Well! I’ll quit boring you with my personal pedigree! My wife Beth and I live in a small town in Saskatchewan–in relative peace and quiet. Our son Jim and family live in Mexico, where he and his wife are missionaries. Glad to visit your blog. I may be back from time to time. May the Lord bless you and your family. Let’s keep on keeping on for Him.

      • Thank you for the reply. LOL, the pedigree wasn’t boring. Our family loves history.

        I’ve just added the section you mentionned to the Phillip Bliss biography with a link back to here. Let me know if that is okay. http://applesofgold.earnestlycontending.com/2009/05/20/philip-paul-bliss/

        Do check out our other websites listed on the right side.

      • Glad to have you on board. Drop by any time. Materials are often helpful with homeschooling. I know that, because I taught hymnology in a Christian elementary school, with great results.

      • The date is December 4, 2016. I’m just wondering if you are still actively involved in this ministry. This is an awesome website. I stumbled upon it and I’m glad that I did. I love the old hymns and I’m sorry that we do not sing them anymore. At my church we sing one hymn every Sunday. I love reading about why the hymns the written but I am also enjoying the devotional articles that you have written. Thank you very much . My husband was raised in Regina Saskatchewan. He would like this website, too, but he is in heaven! I imagine the him singing up there is great!

      • What an encouraging note! Yes, indeed, I’m still developing the blog. Three more hymns are added to it each week. I’m currently working on #974, a wonderful hymn about heaven that is little known. (Counting the Almanac section, there are well over a thousand hymns discussed, maybe twice that many.)

        Your comment that you attend a church that sings one hymn every Sunday touches my heart. What a heritage many congregations are losing. Our church sang five hymns and one chorus this morning–kinda the other way ’round to what you describe. And all the hymns were carefully chosen to amplify the message from God’s Word.

        When I go preaching in other churches, I usually suggest hymns with that in mind. It’s interesting the reactions I get. Sometimes it’s “Nobody knows those.” But other times it’s, “I love it when you come to speak, we can sing some hymns again.” Ah well, I do what I can.

        Thanks again for your note. Have a joyous Christmas, and God’s rich blessings in the New Year.


  4. Hi Robert,

    What an interesting blog you have!

    There is no end to the praises and hymns that can be sung to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    It’s interesting to study into the lives of the hymn writers and the history of the hymns. Keep up the good work for the Lord.

    Christopher Tan

    • Thanks for the compliment. And as to there being no end to the praises that can be sung to the Lord, you’re certainly right. What has been begun on earth, will continue on into eternity. The book of Revelation shows us that. God bless.

  5. from Dark Night

    a burning light by them shone into my mind

    While searching for the book on the life of Rev. John Duncan I came across a book titled “Memoirs Of The Life Of The Rev. Thomas Halyburton, Professor Of Divinity In The University Of St. Andrews. This is a precious old book and right now I do not remember where I got it? I will quote from the memoirs of Halyburton since I am nuts—

    “But it was not the word alone that conveyed the discovery; for most of the passages whereby I was relieved I had formerly in my distresses read and thought upon, without finding any relief in them. But now the Lord shined into my mind by them. (2 Cor. iv. 6). Formerly I was only acquainted with the letter, which profits not (John vi. 63); but now the Lord’s words were “spirit and life” (Ps. xxxvi. 9); and “in his light I saw light.” (Ps. cxix. 18.) There was light in them; a burning light by them shone into my mind, to give me not merely some theoretical knowledge, but “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. iv. 6). And many differences I found betwixt the discoveries now made and the notions I formerly entertained of the same truths.

    1. It “shone from heaven” (Acts ix. 3); it was not a spark kindled by my own endeavours, but it shone suddenly about me; it came by the word of God-a heavenly mean; it opened heaven, and discovered heavenly things-the glory of God; and it led me up as it were to heaven. Its whole tendency was heavenward.

    2. It was a “true light” (John i. 9), giving true manifestations of God, even the one true God, and the one mediator between God and man; and giving a true view of my state with respect to God, not according to the foolish conceits I had formerly entertained, but as they are represented in the word.

    3. It was a pleasant and sweet light: “Truly light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.” (Eccles. xi. 7.) It had a heavenly satisfaction in God attending it. It led to a pleasure in the fountain whence it came.

    4. It was a distinct and clear light, representing not only spiritual things, but manifesting them in their glory, and in their comely order (2 Cor. iv. 6); it put all things in their due line of subordination to God, and gave distinct and sweet views of their genuine tendency.

    5. It was a satisfying light. The soul rested in the discoveries it made, and was satisfied; it could not doubt if it saw, or if the things were so as it represented them. (1 John ii. 27.)

    6. It was a quickening, refreshing, healing light. When this Sun of Righteousness arose, there was “healing under his wings.” It was the light of life. (John viii. 12; 2 Cor. iv. 6.)

    7. It was a great light. It made great and clear discoveries, whereby it easily distinguished itself from any former knowledge of these things I had attained. And,

    8. It was a powerful light. It dissipated that thick darkness that overspread my mind, and made all those frightful temptations, that had formerly disturbed me, fly before it. When the Lord arose, “his enemies were scattered,” and fled before his face (Ps. lxviii. 1).

    9. It was composing. It did not, like a flash of lightning, suddenly appear, and fill the soul only with amazement and fear; but it composed and quieted my soul, and put all my faculties in a due posture, as it were, and gave me the exercise of them. (Cant. iii. 8, compared with Isa. lvii. 19.) It destroyed not, but improved my former knowledge. . .” pg. 104, 105 from the “Life of Rev. Thomas Halyburton (1674-1712)”

    • Terrific quotation! Thanks for taking the time to share it. Three hundred years, and the writing still holds up beautifully. I can understand why you treasure the book–and also why John Wesley used to recommend Halyburton’s writings.

      I’m a little dense I suppose, but I’m still not absolutely sure why a more positive phrase as the title of your blog would not have worked better. (Not to beat a dead horse…too much.) Say, Halyburton’s, A Pleasant and Sweet Light. Or, better cadence to the ear, A Sweet and Pleasant Light, sub-headed by the quotation from Ecclesiastes–even classier looking with the original 1611 KJV spelling. To wit: “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sunne.”

      Well, there you are. Good exchanging with you. Thanks again for the quotation. Gives this blog a much higher tone! 🙂

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog to introduce yourself and your blog. You are right that your blog is definitely of interest to me! I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like to about the hymns of our faith but I love learning about them.

    Oh, and thanks for the historical note you left in reference to “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “Moment by Moment.”

  7. Hello Robert, thank you for the encouragement and reminder that I found this morning! I love how God has connected His people in Christ!

    By the way I was born in Toronto! I still have family living in Ontario. I myself am practically an American (with a green card!).

    God bless you!
    A sister in Christ,

    • Yes, the way believers are connected continues to amaze me. Wherever you go, there is that family link. (I guess I could call myself practically a Westerner 🙂 since our family has lived here for over 20 years.)

  8. Hi Robert, this is so you know I was here and that I appreciate your comment on my blog!

    It always encourages me to know so many faithful servants of the Lord all over the world, especially in reference to your self and the hymn writers. Have always a special place in my heart for Fanny Crosby and Horatio G Spafford. Spafford’s amazing turn-over from his affliction to the Lord in the second stanza onwards in his hymn, It Is Well With My Soul always amazes and encourages me 🙂

    May the Lord continue to bless you so that others may be blessed through you 🙂

    Pei Ling
    6-year-old Christian from Malaysia

    • Thank you for your kind note. I read your testimony (“My Story”) with interest. It is wonderful to learn how the Lord has worked in your life to this point. I encourage you to keep on with your spiritual journey. May the Lord richly bless you.

  9. Dear Uncle Robert,

    I actually replied to your comments on my blog but for your convenience I think I will reply here also.

    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts in my blog. Yes I fully agree also that many hymns as you say were born in times of trial. Some of my favourites include stories of hymns like “It is well with my soul” and also “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.

    I have explored your blog for only a while yet I am quickly very impressed by it. There are still so much more that I hope I can learn from you with regards to hymns. Thanks once again for sharing. God bless!!

    I will put a link to this blog so that more believers can come to know and appreciate the rich heritage of the church hymns.

    From Singapore

    • Thanks for providing a link to my blog. It has been encouraging to find folks all across the world who enjoy the old hymns, and are interested in learning more about them. God bless.

  10. Hi there,

    Just a suggestion. Why not publish a Hymn Alamac book. I could work with you to create an MP3 CD of the tunes of the hymns.


    • Well, that’s actually the long-range goal for the material. I’ve already been discussing it at a preliminary level with my publisher. As to the MP3, not sure about that. But a book is a definite possibility, if the Lord wills.

      • Oh, how lovely to hear/read the phrase “if the Lord wills’.
        It is a rarity these days. I say it whenever I am planning something or suggesting something. It is not a trite habit, but one that I truly feel. If the Lord wills. . . that is our life, isn’t it.
        His will! I do so love your blog.

  11. Dear Robert,

    Greetings in our Saviour’s peerless name.

    Thanks for being a blessing (Proverbs 10:22). It has been heartwarming and instructive browsing through your blog.

    I have a favour to ask please. An old favourite of my Dad’s is John C Huston’s Keep on believing (it weathered my Dad through many trials in the mission field). I have been searching and have been unable to find the lyrics for this song. I believe it commences with “Sometimes the shadows gather…”

    I would be much obliged if you could provide (or point me toward) these lyrics please.

    Thank you.


    • Took me a check through about 60 or 70 books, but I think I found what you’re looking for. Actually, it seems the author of the song is Frank Claude Huston (not John C. Huston). And to add to my own confusion, I was already familiar with a lovely song, also called “Keep on Believing,” credited to Lucy Booth-Hellberg in one book. (Al Smith has the initials of someone else, but I think the former is correct.) In any event, I’m e-mailing you the information you wanted. God bless.

      • Thank you so much Robert. You got it right, and I appreciate the effort. You have made my Dad and I very happy people! I will make sure to keep in touch (especially with queries, if you don’t mind). You are in our prayers.
        With Christian love,

      • You’re welcome. Glad to be of help. Ask a question or make a comment any time.

      • Would it be possible for me to buy a copy of the song out of your book, “I want my life to tell.”
        I tried to find the low voice Singspiration #11 book and it is not available.

        Marty Dempsey

      • Ah yes, I see it. I have a copy of Low Voice #11, and there’s “I Want My Life to Tell for Jesus.” Unfortunatley, though, it’s not mine to “sell.” Most of the hymns I write about are in what’s called the public domain. That is, they’re not under copyright, and can be copied by anyone without permission. But Mrs. Breck’s song is still under copyright. Mrs. Breck died in 1934, and usually anything more than 75 years old is okay. But the copyright on that particular song was renewed in 1962. Wish I could be more help. Hope you’re able to find it in a book.

      • I have been looking for the same hymn and lyrics all day. Kindly mail it to me too, i mean : Keep on believing by Frank Claude Huston.

      • I’ll see what I can do for you.

  12. I am thrilled you left a comment on my blog so I could find this website! Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this!! It’s wonderful. I gather it’s a labor of love for you. 🙂
    And thank you for letting me know about the link I had placed on my website…I have changed it already!!
    I will definitely be back here often…in fact, I’m adding you to my reader so I won’t miss a thing! If it’s okay with you, I’d also like to post about your site from my blog.
    Thanks again for all you do. Oh, how I love the old hymns!!

    • Ya made my day! And of course you can post a link to my site. And yes, a labour of love, and research extending over some 40 years…or so. (I have a book on hymn history here that was given to me as a Christmas gift in 1963–which, I guess, shows how ancient I am.) Glad for you to visit, and post a comment any time.

  13. It has been an educational pleasure to surf through your site. Thanks for sharing your interest in glorifying our Lord and Savior. I’ve set RSS feed to keep up with new material and as a reminder to return and learn more. God bless your work.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. “An educational pleasure”–My! That about says it. I want to instruct, but I also hope to encourage those who find great delight in our hymns and gospel songs. (By the way, I’m married to a “Grammy,” so I guess that means I’m a Grandpa!)

  14. Dear Robert,

    Greetings in His name. I come again with a next to impossible request. This time all I have is a chorus (I have no writer, title or verses!)

    The chorus: “No other name by which we find salvation. No other name on earch can set the captive free. No other name by which we find redemption. No name on earth has meant so much to me.”

    I’m sorry if this is insufficient, but so far, it’s all I’ve got. I’m hoping you can make something of it – of which I’ll be much obliged.

    Thank you Robert.


    • Yes, you’re right. Pretty impossible to track down. In the 40’s and 50’s chorus books were produced by the hundreds. Most of the songs lived and died with that one issue.

      My area of study is hymns and gospel songs, but I have a few books of choruses. I checked them all but couldn’t find your song.

      Sounds good, though, based on Acts 4:12. I wish you well in finding it. Maybe you can get a clue from where you heard it, or who heard it.

      • Thank you Robert,

        I appreciate your efforts. I’ll update you on any progress I make.

        Praying that the joy of the Lord may continually be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

        Thanks again.

        with Christian love,


      • I just came across your blog and was scrolling through it enjoying each post. I love the old hymns and gospel songs but find that many of my favorites are not in the hymnbooks – at least in the ones I have. However, the post of October 21, 2009 got my attention because the words of a chorus “rang a bell” with me; I could hear the tune as I heard it sung on the radio about 30 years ago. So I searched and found that the words were a bit mixed up – perhaps that’s why it couldn’t be found. Here’s the chorus:

        My heart is stirred whene’er I think of Jesus
        That blessed name which sets the captive free
        The only name through which I find salvation
        No name on earth has meant so much to me.

        There are some websites that have the lyrics and mp3. I think it’s called “A Name I Highly Treasure”

        Thank you for researching and sharing the rich heritage of the Church.

      • H-m-m… You’ll have to help me out on this one. I can’t find in my archives any entry for October 21, 2009. And in my index of hymns covered, I haven’t been able to find “A Name I Highly Treasure.” Not saying the entry isn’t there. 🙂 But it’s hiding. Can you send me the link? I’m curious to know where the entry is, and whether I can improve it. (Thanks.)

      • Lately I have been sitting down at the piano and playing through my hymn book. It has encouraged me greatly. One song has always been a blessing to me, “The Mercies of God”. I knew there had to be a story behind it. So I did a search and found your site and the story behind this great hymn. Great is Thy Faithfulness is another favorite of mine aswell. Thank you for this very helpful site! ~Denise

      • You’re most welcome Denise. Thank you for taking the time to write. My interest in hymn history began when I received Phil Kerr’s book on the subject, Music in Evangelism for Christmas, 49 years ago. (The book is still in my library, and I still find it useful for certain songs.) And the passion that began so long ago has only intensified, the more I’ve learned. I’m truly saddened by churches that are determined to cast aside the hymn book. It’s not that none of the contemporary choruses have merit, but let’s not abandon our rich heritage. But then, I’m probably preaching to the choir. 🙂

    • Robert, THANKS so much for your lifetime of work ~ delightful, interesting work! ~ on hymns — both texts & tunes. It is among the greatest losses of the present-day Church to have tossed out these glorious hymns! There is a treasure-trove of doctrine, Scriptural allusions, and excellent poetry! It is my earnest prayer that in my own lifetime I will get to see the cultural “rebound”, wherein the 21st century church restores hymn-singing (and not just a phrase or snippet of melody here or there). My earliest memories of church were of singing and hearing hymns, and in moments requiring the greatest grace, and the deepest comfort, God always directs my thoughts to my mental “audio files” gleaned from many, many hymnbooks! My Bible is first, but immediately thereafter are my hymnbooks! So may God encourage your heart and continue to invigorate you in this wonderful ministry!

      I just “happened” (well, it is God’s Sovereignty, I know) upon your blog this evening, and thought I would read some comments. I wanted to offer to “Victor” that the hymn (“gospel song”, technically speaking) for which he was searching Oct. 27th, 2009, is entitled “A Name I Highly Treasure”, written by Oscar C. Eliason, with a copyright date of 1958, copyright claimant listed as the Lillenas Publishing Co., and arranged by Mosie Lister. I do not own the book myself, but I believe that may have been published in one of the Singspiration’s “Favorites” series books — well-known to church musicians of the last 40-50 years, or a very similar series published by Singspiration.

      The words start something like this (my memory here is a bit rusty…):

      I’ve learned to know a Name I highly treasure,
      Oh, how it thrills my spirit through and through!
      O, blessed Name, beyond degree or measure:
      My heart is stirred, whene’er I think of You!

      My heart is stirred, whene’er I think of Jesus!
      The blessed Name that sets the captive free!
      The only Name through which we find salvation:
      No name on earth has meant so much to me!

      I hope this helps “Victor” —.

      On a slightly different “note”, Robert, would you please share or direct me to further information about one of my favorite hymn text writers, Thomas O. Chisholm? Everyone (well, “many” people, I should say) knows “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, but fewer still know of “The Mercies of God”, another of his texts.

      THANK you again for your work, and any information on T. O. Chisholm. I look forward to reading through the archived articles on your blog — a great resource to be treasured and enjoyed like a favorite hymnbook!

      Blessings & encouragements to you!

      • Well! You’ve covered a lot of ground there! First, a hearty Amen to all you say about the great value of our hymnody, and the sad fact that many churches have virtually abandoned it. Then, a humble thank you for your complimentary words about my research and my blog. I thank the Lord that I’ve been spared to make many years of research available more widely. As to the gospel song, “A Name I Highly Treasure,” it’s not one I’m familiar with. A quick check of 10 Favorites books, and a couple of dozen other books, didn’t reveal it. But I hope your information is a help to the questioner.

        Now, as to the story behind Tom Chisholm’s “The Mercies of God,” it’s a terrific one. Glad you asked. I’m currently working on a second book. To follow up Discovering the Songs of Christmas, I’m about 80% finished Discovering the Songs of Comfort. Lord willing, the account will appear there. But here it is, just for you. It’s told in more detail in Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Stories, but this is the gist.

        The old man awoke to another day. His wife had been seriously ill for a long period, and it was time to give her her medicine. But the bottle was empty, and he had no money for more. Thinking perhaps a little breakfast would lift her spirits, he returned to the kitchen. But the ice box was almost as empty as the pill bottle, and even buying groceries seemed beyond their means. Not only that, their rent was due that day. But God knew the need even before they did.

        Tom certainly believed that. He and his wife had come through many difficult times, though on this day in 1935 things seemed worse than usual. But the Lord had His hand in it all.

        Two days before, two men were attending to some necessary record-keeping for the Gideons Bible distribution ministry. They were going over the membership list for New Jersey. The policy was to remove anyone who had been contacted twice, but failed to send in the registration fee–five dollars in those days. But just as Mr. Stam was about to cross off T. O. Chisholm, his friend said, “Jake, don’t you know who that man is? Why, he’s the fellow that wrote ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness.’” Saying that was his favourite hymn, Stam responded, “That sure is worth five dollars–I’ll pay the brother’s dues.”

        However that was not the end of it. That night Stam had trouble sleeping. Tom Chisholm kept coming to his mind. Believing there might be a need there, he decided to send him a gift in the morning. Then the ringing of the phone at six roused him. It was his friend from the evening before. He had had the same experience in the night. Seeing this as the leading of the Lord, both men wrote cheques, mailing them off with a note.

        The next day–the day the burden of the Chisholm’s meagre finances struck with full force, Thomas Obediah Chisholm got that letter. At first, his heart sank to see on the envelope, Jacob Stam, Attorney at Law! He thought, “All the trouble I’m in, and now an attorney is after me!” But when he tore open the envelope he read, “Dear Brother, we have never met you, but we love you in the Lord. Thank you so much for ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness.’ Enclosed is a little something the Lord told us to send you.”

        Mr. Chisholm was astonished to see that the “little something” covered not only the month’s rent, and the cost of the medicine, but provided enough to restock the pantry. At his wife’s urging, Tom Chisholm wrote a song of testimony about it all which says,

        The mercies of God! What a theme for my song,
        Oh! I never could number them o’er.

      • Thank you GraceReigns. Thank you Robert.

        Oscar C. Eliason’s “A Name I Highly Treasure”, I believe is the one we’ve been looking for! I am so overjoyed that you were led to it. I am yet to get confirmation from my father that we’ve found his song (he’s Kaduna, Nigeria at the moment – he covets our prayers). Godwilling I will speak with him tomorrow.

        Every blessing, and heartfelt thanks again.


      • Hope it’s the right song for you. Thanks for letting me know.

    • Hi there, Victor Nathan! Glad to know I could be of service in sharing the words of a Gospel song that I, too, love so well! “A Name I Highly Treasure” is a song I first heard while attending a Christian college during the time that I accompanied a number of private vocal students. One of the vocal instructors had an amazing library of “old” hymnbooks, as well as many smaller books with “special music”. One afternoon during a student’s lesson, the teacher walked over to a huge bookshelf filled with enough hymnbooks to cause the sin of envy (*just think: Robert C. is reading this thinking, ‘Envy’ from looking at *hymnbooks*! chuckle, chuckle!), selected a smaller book about the size of a “Favorites” book, and brought it over to the piano. It was my first time playing it, and I loved it right away!

      Truly, there is NO other name in Heaven, nor on earth, through which we find salvation, Victor! “No other name has meant so much to me!” Amen!

      God’s blessings to you & your father now in Nigeria!

      –Gracie (a sister in Christ)

      • It’s the one! It’s the one! He was sooo encouraged 😀 Amen and amen. Thanks again.

        That’s a beautiful story (your introduction to the song). And your absolutely right the words are very rich and ring absolutely true. My father’s taught me the tune too – quite uplifting.

        Gracie is a name I won’t forget in a hurry; my sister’s name is Grace 🙂

        My Dad’s doing well and sends every blessing from Kaduna (northern Nigeria).

        Praying for your refreshing and fulfilment. With christian love,


  15. So good to see such a response to your web site.
    God bless you brother.

    Joanne Mahar

    • Thanks for your encouragement. The comments from all over have been gratifying to me too.

  16. Good afternoon Robert. Thank you for reading the Wits End Corner post on my blog. It was good to read about you glorious work for our Lord and Savior!

    • Thanks, and I hope you’re not a “wit’s end” too often. God bless.

  17. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I appreciate your thoughts. My grandfather was an amateur hymnologist, and I carry a love of good church music and the singing of hymns. Your new book on Christmas hymns looks very interesting. What you found on my blog was the Christmas study I wrote last year, to introduce my kids to the history behind some Christmas hymns and songs. We learned about a new one each day. I’ll be getting your book to have as a reference…as they get older, I think we’ll refer to it!

    Keep up the good work, and I’ll be following your blog!

    • Thanks for your kind thoughts. My publisher is working diligently to get the book out before Christmas, since the subject is carols. Hope you find it useful.

  18. Robert – I have a partial answer to Victor Nathan’s query in October. The lines he quotes: “No other name by which we find salvation… etc.” I believe are from the refrain. I think the title is “A Name I Highly Treasure” – a favourite of my mom’s. I may very well have it somewhere and will try to look for it in the next couple days.

    • Thanks for that. Really appreciate the input. It’s a song I wasn’t familiar with.

    • Not sure how this was finally resolved but there is a wikipedia entry for Oscar Eliason the author of “A Name I Highly Treasure” that includes the names of several books(hymnals or songbooks) in which the song was included. The list includes “Sing to the Lord”, a hymnal published by Lillenas.

      • I see that Hymnary.org gives the actual title of the song as “No Other Name Has Meant So Much to Me.” That might be a help in locating it.

  19. Robert, thank you for your kind comments on my blog! And what can I say about yours–it’s a treasure trove! I’ll be adding a prominent link to it on my site. I’ve always loved the old hymns, but am just lately discovering the rich history and compelling stories behind so many of them. BTW, the Fleming branch of my family originates (at least from the 1830s) in Wellington County, ON, and my son married a girl from Montreal just last year–I feel almost Canadian myself!

    • Always glad to accept another honorary Canadian. And thanks for your encouraging comments.

  20. I have been trying to find the book Music in Evangelism By Phil Kerr. Could you tell me how I can purchase this book.

    Thank you
    May God Bless you

    • H-m-m… Well, I expect that Phil Kerr’s book is long out of print. Good book. I have a copy and use it from time to time. In fact, it was the first book on hymn history that I obtained–back in 1963. The good news is that Amazon seems to have plenty of used copies available at a reasonable price. You should be able to order one there.

  21. Robert, thank you for your kind response to my request for additional information on Thomas O. Chisholm’s “The Mercies of God” — your story (which is real, AND a wonderful example of God’s perfect timing as well as of His perfect provisions) is already saved on my mental “hard drive”!

    I will be enjoying your archives for quite a long time before I finally “catch up”, but it is like enjoying a perpetual “dessert” to one who loves hymns (as do I).

    Here’s a quick question for you, Robert: Where would you recommend those who currently write traditional hymn-texts locate traditional hymn-tune-writing Christian composers? (20 years ago, who would have ever thought there might be such a question? But times have changed…) Ideally, it would be nice if such writers were also blessed with compositional gifts — but again, this is the statement of an “idealist”!

    No doubt you have some opinions (and I would be interested to read/”hear” them) regarding the current state of hymnody ~ both the writing of traditional (i.e., metrical) texts, as well as the writing of melodious, well-harmonized text settings. May God grant you long, long life, in order to accomplish the many things His generously-given talents are enabling you to do!

    • Well! You ask a great question. But I must confess it is not one I’ve thought much about. My focus over the years has mainly been on hymn texts and their authors. I haven’t given nearly as much thought to the composers of the tunes. Further, my attention has been given to reviving interest in our traditional hymnody, not so much in exploring the contemporary scene. You might try checking Tom Fettke’s website (where there’s also an e-mail address). Mr. Fettke is an excellent arranger, and I’m sure he’s current on what’s out there. See…

      Another possibility is to check with the Hymn Society (of the United States and Canada). They deal with both traditional and contemporary hymnody, and would be able to answer your question and put you in contact with newer hymn writers. See…

      Hope that’s a help. God bless.

      • Hi, Robert,

        Your response regarding checking out either Tom Fettke’s website, or that of The Hymn Society of America were both dead-ends, I fear! (That leaves one thing: Finding my own outlet in which to dispense the 4-part hymns I write! Not having my own choir to test-drive such new hymns on is a major challenge…)Tradionalist (& “hymn geek”) that I am, I love tonal music, metered poetry, and avoiding A2s, A4s, parallel fifths, parallel octaves, and… chocolate ice cream on a warm summer’s night! (Don’t all hymn geeks love chocolate ice cream?)

        When I say “write new music” I nearly instantly get one of two extreme responses: a) people assume this “new music” is the type in so-called “emergent churches”, etc.; it is definitely *not* that! Or they assume b) it must be like the unrhymed poetry, set to ametrical (you’ve heard of atonal, right? Think: “the opposite of ‘metrical'”) music, and…doctrinally questionable when it comes to the fundamentals of the faith: the Virgin Birth, the Blood Atonement, the Deity of Christ, the Vicarious Death of Christ on the Cross for us, the Inspiration of Scripture. (Theoretically speaking, it would be easier to write, um, lesser-quality music than to strive for excellence.) But… boring soul that I am, I still *love* four-part SATB music — especially when it’s sung a cappella! (4-part SSAA and TTBB is also wonderful!)

        Perhaps in lieu of a publisher, I will instead ask you for sources of excellent words — *other than* Charles Spurgeon’s “Our Own Hymnbook”? If the words are from the last 200-300 years, and if the pronunciation of ending rhymes can be adapted to present-day standard English dialect, then I would be very interested in the resources you might recommend (all recommended, of course, between quick notes/sketches on the church bulletins!).

        Blessings & continued encouragements to you!


        p.s. I note you identify one of my alma maters in the body of some past suggestions to other loyal readers… No doubt you suspected that is one of the places I gained my formal schooling in part-writing, etc. Unfortunately one must be somewhat of an insider in order to publish w/them…

      • Thanks for your long post. And I agree with your point of view…kindred spirits 🙂 in music and theology. Not sure I can help you with looking for hymn books. (Did you rule out Spurgeon’s book because you already have a copy?) What about simply going to the Cyber Hymnal? My friend Dick Adams now has over 8,000 hymns on there–even a couple of my little songs (though I’m definitely not much of a composer!). There’s a tune called Garside, written years ago by my father, as well. Almost all of the hymns there are in the public domain, so can be copied and changed as you like.

        I’d love to see one or two of your own hymns, if you could scan them and e-mail them to me. There must be a market for them out there somewhere. Do you have a copy of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide (published annually)? I sent out a Book Proposal to dozens of publishers listed there before I found Jebaire Publishing and got into print.

        P.S. Tried to send you a sketch of the tomato plant on our deck, done on a recent Sunday bulletin, but either I couldn’t figure out how to do it, or blog posts don’t like tomatoes!

  22. Greetings from a fellow Canadian ! I have just discovered your great sight. I am a lover of these old time great gospel hymns ! I was raised in a Christian home and we used to sing these ageless hymns all the time. Praise God for these inspired hymns. Unfortunately, churches today are drawing further and further away from these hymns in order to sing these so-called “contemporary” gospel songs but they simply don’t add up when compared to great hymns.

    • I agree with you Pierre. Not that songs are better because they’re old, or worse because they’re new. But the contemporary choruses rarely reveal the depth of spiritual insight or doctrinal clarity of the old hymns. Glad to have you aboard. I see that my sight just went over 23,000 visits since the end of May, from over 80 countries of the world–even including Moslem and Communist countries. There are hymn lovers everywhere!

  23. Good to read of a lyricist doing the job that I’ve been trying to do for the last few years. I wonder if you have the same troubles as me? The big one: transliterating King James into today’s language without it (a) sounding banal or (b) being forced by restrictions of rhyme and scansion to say something quite different!

    • You’re right that creating poetry meeting the restrictions of a hymn tune’s metre is a tricky business. As a side note, the wisdom and providence of God is evident in the structure of Hebrew poetry in the Bible–seen especially in the Psalms. Instead of rhyming words, Hebrew poetry uses parallel ideas. Works in any language! There are some true masters of the English poetic form represented in our hymnody. Others struggle with the genre. But I can accept less than perfect poetry if it accurately represents the meaning of the Word of God.

  24. What a great site. Pleased to meet someone behind the fantastic site ‘Cyberhymnal’ where I have learnt many wonderful hymns. I first came across ‘Cyberhymnal’ whilst looking for hymns and have been so blessed by it. Yes, you are right about the beautiful old hymns dying out in the churches. So many people no longer know the old classics even! A Christian brother introduced me to the ‘Redemption Hymnal’ (now reproduced and avaliable online to purchase including songbooks) and from there I have collected many old hymn books increasing my repetoire and knowledge. People are always blessed by the hymns and the teaching they contain. Came across a blog today that has bible studies based on individual hymns. Great for a deeper understanding of the old fashioned terminology and the scriptures they relate to. Thanks again for your wonderful work in the Lord and the fruit of it. Praise be the Lord forever!

    • Thanks for the encouragement. I do what I can.

  25. Dear brother in Christ, I was looking for some background on the hymn,”Tell It Again” and read your account of the story. I don’t have time tonight, but I will be visiting your site again. I meet with Christians gathering unto the Lord Jesus and we are conservative by today’s standards. We love the hymns and sing from a volume called, “Hymns of Truth and Praise”, and another called “The Believer’s Hymnal”. I do not know all of the tunes and cyberhymnal has been a help. We also sing choruses and scripture songs in our Sunday evening Sunday School. Thanks again for your labors. In Christ, ken
    Matthew 5:16
    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    • Thanks for your encouragement. It has been amazing to hear from folks all over the world who love to sing our traditional hymns and gospel songs. May the Lord bless your assembly as you gather in His name.

  26. Greetings,
    Just came upon your site, I am looking for a the word and music to a song the first line is “i am a stranger here” don’t have any author.

    Also am trying to find music to “I want my life to tell” by Mrs. Frank A Breck

    I am excited to find your site.

    Blessings in Jesus to you

    • Glad you’ve enjoyed the site so far. The song with the line “I am a stranger here” sounds like “The King’s Business,” by Flora Cassel. You can find it on the Cyber Hymnal, and there’s a PDF file of the music you can print off. I wasn’t so fortunate with the second search. I have it in an old low voice book (Low Voice #11, by Singspiration Incorporated), but that may be of little help to you. I’ve never seen it anywhere else.

  27. Thank you for the help. I was able to get the hymn and send it to my brother, a semi retired minister who still sings and loves the old hymns.

    Just a note my Mother was from your town.

    • Glad to be of service, and to meet the relative of a Hamiltonian. I’m still an avid Hamilton Ti-Cat fan, though we’ve lived in the west for 22 years now.

  28. Greetings Mr. Cottrill,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. I was pleasantly surprised after looking at your blog and seeing that you contribute to cyber hymnal. I have used that helpful website many times when looking for a certain song. Thank you! I also enjoyed learning some history about the hymn writers. Have a blessed day.
    Frannie Halbert

    • You’re most welcome. Drop by any time! 🙂

  29. I appreciated your response to my article on “Why I Love Hymns”, and have enjoyed being introduced to your excellent site in turn. Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love 🙂 Keep up the good work.

    • You’re welcome. And you know, of course–it must be explained somewhere on your site–that poiema is the Greek word for “poem.” It’s the word the Apostle Paul uses when he writes, “We are His workmanship [poiema]…” (Eph. 2:10). We are God’s poems, works of divine art He is creating for His glory. God bless.

  30. I have been looking for some history on C. Austin Miles who wrote “In the Garden”. Not much on the internet I can piece together. Interested because my aunt, Marion Ogden Evans and her sister Irene Ogden Poole where to have been the first two to sing the song in a Philadelphia church after it was written by Miles. Story is that Miles was a friend of the choir director and had these two girls sing it in church to try it out on the congregation. Any information at all on Miles?

    • H-m-m… I don’t have a lot without some digging. But here’s a quick note, especially related to the writing of “In the Garden.”

      Austin Miles (1868-1946), a one-time pharmacist turned hymn writer, was meditating on this account of Mary’s meeting with the risen Saviour at Easter time in 1912. He was working at his hobby, developing pictures in a photographic darkroom in his cold, leaky basement. The windowless room had no view of a garden, but that is where the popular gospel song “In the Garden” was born.

      Miles says, “I seemed to be a part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary’s life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, ‘Rabboni!’” Inspired by his vivid mental picture of the incident, Mr. Miles wrote the song beginning, “I come to the garden alone, / While the dew is still on the roses; / And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, / The Son of God discloses. / And He walks with me, and He talks with me, / And He tells me I am His own, / And the joy we share as we tarry there, / None other has ever known.”

      The hymn has been called sentimental and meaningless–which it might be if just any “garden” were in view. But the author had a specific one in mind. He wanted to capture something of the flood of emotion Mary experienced. Miles comments, “Just one word from His lips, and forgotten the heartaches, the long dreary hours….All the past blotted out in the presence of the Living Present and the Eternal Future.” Mary had been surprised by a joy like no other. Many who have found the living Christ would say the same. “Though now [we] do not see Him, yet believing, [we] rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8).

  31. […] Robert Cottrill has filled me in on I Vow to Thee My Country, the hymn based on a famous section of the “Jupiter” movement of Gustav Holst’s Planets suite, which (the hymn, that is) I featured in a recent Sunday Morning Gospel. The hymn tune is called “Thaxtad,” and it can be heard (and the score downloaded) at the coolest stop in cyberspace, Cyber Hymnal (where Robert has contributed a great deal). […]

    • You’re welcome. Drop by any time!

  32. Robert:

    I love your website – have added the link to my blog. Also glad to find cyberhymnal. I like your Scottish ancestry – almost could be a Presbyterian! Please pass the word on my blog – http://www.terebinthonline.com – it’s all about the Holy Spirit in our daily lives!

    I have not looked it up on your site or on cyberhymnal but my mother’s favorite hymn was “Light of Light, Enlighten Me.” She wanted me to have it sung or played at her funeral which we did a year and a half ago. I have only ever seen it in the red Presbyterian Hymnal of 1954. Thanks!


    • Light of Light, Enlighten Me is a new hymn to me, though I love another of Benjamin Schmolck’s, My Jesus, as Thou Wilt. Anyway, thanks for getting in touch. Here’s your mother’s favourite on the Cyber Hymnal:

  33. Aye! What a precious hymn to which to be introduced on a day when the heart is heavy with the burden of trial and grief. How we need to rest in Him and His limitless grace!

    I posted a link to the hymn on my facebook page for others to have opportunity to experience!

    God Bless You Brother Bob!

    • Always glad to be a blessing to someone, Bill. And the other day I passed the 40,000 visitors mark, from some 135 countries. That encourages me that I’ve been able to be a blessing to many here and there.

  34. I ♥ your blog & all the information it gives me about the hymns I ♥ so much!?! I am also a blogger -&- I was wondering if you could please tell me how I can add You Tube clips to my blog!?! Thank you in advance for your help & God Bless You!?!

    • Well, inserting a video link may sound a bit complicated, but the steps are simple enough. 1) Find a video you want on YouTube and copy the address (the URL at the top of the screen). Now, I’m using WordPress to build my blog. Other programs may be slightly different, but I’ll describe what happens in WordPress. 2) Go to the WordPress Dashboard, and click on the Edit screen for the blog you are interested in. 3) Put your cursor where you want the video clip to appear. Click on the little Add Video icon above your text. (It looks a bit like a piece of film, and is just to the left of some music notes). 4) In that screen, click on From URL and paste your copied URL into the space provided. 5) Click on Insert in Post and you’re pretty much done. 6) I don’t like a lot of advertising on my video clips, as something might be included that would be offensive. To prevent that, inside the squared brackets that contain the URL, add at the end &rel=0

  35. I love hymns. Question–How did you find/come across my blog? And yes, I will be checking out your blog! Thanks for sharing!

    God’s blessings!

    • Great to have you on board! As you can tell from the world map, I get visitors from all over the globe. As to how I found you, here’s the deal. Each day I post a blog on my almanac that relates to things that happened in hymn history on that day.

      Then, I do a Google Blog Search to discover who is interested in the hymn(s)–and occasionally, who is critical of the particular hymn(s). I often leave a comment–short or longer…depends. (I’ve actually done this over a thousand times.)

      In that way, I not only interact with others about the subject of our English Hymnody, but I also help to acqaint folks with my blog, and build my readership. When I did that this morning for “Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me,” your blog of May 3rd popped up. So, now you know “the rest of the story” 🙂 God bless.

  36. Thank you for believing that the Word of God IS the Word of God.

    • Yes, cover to cover, word for word. Or as someone put it, from Genesis to maps!

  37. I am researching the hymn ‘We have an anchor.’ I have found two versions, one continuing the questions throughout, and one changing to affirmations. For example, the first line of verse 2:
    ‘It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,’ or
    ‘Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear.’

    Do you know which are original?

    • Yes, you are correct. There are two versions–in particular, of the final stanza. Here are the two variations

      Will your eyes behold through the morning light
      The city of gold, and the harbour bright?
      Will you anchor safe by the heav’nly shore
      When life’s storms are past for evermore?

      When our eyes behold through the gath’ring night
      The city of gold, our harbour bright,
      We shall anchor fast by the heav’nly shore
      With the storms all past forevermore.

      I believe, at least from early versions of the hymn I have seen, that the first of these is the original. It carries the interrogative form through to the end. Perhaps, used in an evangelistic meeting, that would be appropriate. But for use in the church, I prefer the latter. It becomes a confident statement of the people of God on which to end the song.

  38. Do you have information about Benjamin A. Baur?
    He wrote a chorus entitled “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus”


    • Sorry, I can’t help you on that one. I’ve sung the song. Lovely. And I have it in a book dated 1935, so that gives us the approximate age (Rodeheaver-Ackley Choruses #1). But “Benamin A. Baur” is all the information on the page. These little songs have been written by the thousands over the years. (And that is not at all to denigrate the better ones.) I see, on the same page, that Baur also contributed a chorus called “I’ve a Friend.” That’s about all I can tel you.

      • Hello,

        In answer to this question Rev. Benjamin A. Baur was born in 1897. He was a member of the evangelistic group the “Washington Trio” and in 1927 became the pastor of Elim Tabernacle in Rochester, NY. (church closed down with urban renewal and his death) He died in 1972 in Rochester, NY.

        I hope that helps a little.

      • Thanks for the information. Merry Christmas!

  39. I love the Cyber Hymnal and use it as a reference quite often. I share your love of hymns. 🙂

    • Thanks. I’ve had a small part in gathering the information for the Cyber Hymnal, as well as developing this site. Drop by any time. God bless.

  40. Thank you for your website. Do you know if anyone has written a biography on the life of Thomas O. Chisolm, writer of “Great is Thy Faithfulness?” I’ve found short quips on his life, but nothing longer than a few paragraphs.

    • Great question! I know of nothing off hand, but I’m in the process of searching for you. If I come up with anything, I’ll try to let you know.

    • Have done a bit more checking, but came up empty on the request for a full-length biography of Thomas Chisholm. My guess is that there isn’t such a thing.

      • Thank you for your work! I pray someone working on a Ph.D in church history or church music will write a thesis on his life and turn it into a biography. Blessings on your work.

      • Thanks again for your encouragement. I contacted another source yesterday, one with access to thousands of volumes on hymn history. He knows of nothing specific on Thomas Chisholm, but said he would check for me.

  41. Hi Robert, Just a suggestion. Why not convert the material on your blog to an e-book as well which can be read on portable devices such as the iPad.

    I’m currently trying it out over here:

    It can all be done through a web interface. Just alot of copying and pasting work.

    God Bless.

    • Definitely an interesting idea. I’ll make a note to check it out at some point. Several months ago, I purchased a Kindle, and I can actually open and read my blog from there. But I’m sure there are other options in the ever-growing realm of digital technology. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Back again. I had a look at the feedbooks site. But I wonder… If you’re simply going to put hymn lyrics on the site, isn’t it a bit like reinventing the wheel? When you play a song, why not link folks to the Cyber Hymnal, where my friend Dick Adams has now posted the lyrics of over 8,000 hymns? My own site has about 40 years of research behind it, and provides something quite unique. (And I have plans for 2011 that will add another dimension still.) Just wondered. It would be too bad to go to a lot of work and simply duplicate what can already be seen elsewhere.

      • Hi again, yes it might just be too much work. I’m working on getting about 200 hymn lyrics on one small ebook for a start. What prompted me to try this is because I have just got a new Android phone with an ebook reader.

        You might want to consider focusing on a few prominent hymn writers and putting their biographies in a small ebook. Currently, there is no such resource in feedbooks.com

        It might help you to get readers for wordwisehymns.com too.

        God Bless.

      • Another good idea. Thanks! I do have many writing projects on the go at the moment–and any day my publisher is going to ask for a final edit of my next book! But it’s a possibility for the future.

  42. Thanks for your kind suggestion of the CW Publishing Guide — I don’t own one, but will check a few local places to borrow a copy. I had *no* idea that the CWPG would give ideas for places other than for writers of book manuscrips — whether of fiction or non-fiction!

    You’re right — I already do own a pb copy of Spurgeon’s “Our Own Hymnal”, but am simply overwhelmed at trying to decide where to start! (I probably should not write such a thing to the “Energizer-Bunny of Hymnody”, but, well…:smile:)

    Thank you for your kind offer to look at a few of the hymns — I will borrow a friend’s scanner and e-mail a few in the next several days!

    And… earlier (back in Feb. or March, when I first “discovered” your blog), I attempted to visit the Cyber Hymnal, but either my computer or the CH website was having “issues”, so… But I shall try again! And I will specifically investigate your hymns as well as those of your father’s.

    p.s. Do you write your blog posts *in* your sleep? Or do you simply *not* sleep to get all of these things done? (probably the latter!) You must be a scheduling whiz, which is great!

    • “Engergizer Bunner of Hymnody!” That’s pretty good! [chuckle, chuckle…] 🙂 Funny, but my publisher says about the same thing–i.e. “How in the world do you do so much?” But she has a husband and several kids, plus a dog, and that’s a big responsibility in itself, plus she’s running a business. I’m an old retiree. No kids at home, no dog. And, I usually start my day about 5:00 a.m. or so. Can get a lot done that way. But I still wish I had more time. Juggling various projects can be frustrating.

      Hope you were able to connect with the Cyber Hymnal. just make sure you get the original 1996 version at
      Other sites by that name won’t likely have my songs on them. I believe they are plagurized from the original. (My friend who created the site had to change the URL, hence “hymntime.”)

      Took a quick look through the Christian Writers’ Market Guide. I may have missed some things, but what I saw wasn’t that encouraging. “Music-Related Publishers”–whatever that is. However, maybe you can borrow a copy and take a closer look. God bless.

  43. Dear Robert,
    This is just to thank for the priceless resource made of all the songs your website gives access to. Especially the MIDI instrumental file and the songs background, they are so amazing. May GOD bless you more and more to the glory of HIS name and the praise of HIS son Jesus Christ.

    • Thanks. Drop by for a visit any time. 🙂

  44. I do the history of songs each 5th Sunday for my Sunday school Class.

    I am doing “The Lord is My Light and My Salvaation” by James L. Nicholson

    I have been unable to find why he wrote the song.

    Thanks for your help

    • Well, I see the Cyber Hymnal includes your hymn, here. But I simply can’t find any information about why he wrote the hymn. Actually, we know relatively little about the man. He was born in Ireland, sometime around 1828, emigrated to the United States in the early 1850’s, and settled in Philadelphia, where he attended the Wharton Street Methodist Episcopal Church. Around 1871, he moved to Washington, D.C. There he worked as a clerk in the Post Office. Through his life he was active as a layman, teaching Sunday School, leading singing, and helping in evangelistic meetings. He also occasionally wrote hymns. Another of his songs is Whiter Than Snow–with which I’m actually more familiar. That’s about all I can tell you. Wish I could be of more help on this one.

  45. Thank you, Rev Cottrill, for sharing so much information about Gospel songs and hymns as you have. I thought I knew a lot of songs when I listed over 700 that I know and can sing, but when compared to the many thousands of songs written about our Lord, my list pales in comparison!

    • Thanks for your comments. And yes, there are a lot of hymns! I read an article in The Guinness Book of Records some years ago that estimated close to a million have been written since apostolic times. Not all are ones we’d want to use, of course. But I’m sure there are many treasures yet to be rediscovered.

  46. Hello! I found your blog trhough a comment you left at IFBKJV.com. I wonder if you would email me so I could ask you a question regarding hymns? My email is water05201@hotmail.com. I could not find an email address on this site for you, but I may have missed it.

  47. Thank you for commenting on my blog and for correcting me on the author of one of my favorite hymns “Just as I am.” I was recently able to share the words of this hymn to some folks who’s theology is one of works.
    Your blog is wonderful and a refreshing dose of peace and goodness…..a break from the stress of out present world. I would like to put a link to it on my blog if that is fine with you. Many Blessings, Anne

    • Thanks for the encouragement. Sure, glad to have you link to Wordwise Hymns. And hope you’ll drop by again. (Lots of material that could be used for homeschooling.)

  48. Thank you for your comment on my blog. My father was the preacher at our Baptist Church for about 40 years, and now my nephew is our minister. I played piano for our church for 21 years; my niece plays now. We love the beautiful old hymns, steering far away from anything with a contemporary noise to it. It’s always a pleasure to hear from someone whose ‘spirit beareth witness with ours.’ 🙂

    In Christian Love,
    Sarah Lynn

    • Thank you for your delightful words of encouragment. When criminal Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he answered, “Because that’s where the money is.” And if I were asked why I study and write about hymns, and encourage others to sing them, I’d respond, “Because that’s where the wealth of doctrine and devotional content is!” 🙂 God bless.

  49. Thanks Anya. I’ll honour your request not to post your blog.

    My wife and I lived in Southern Ontario for the first part of our lives, though we’ve now been in the West for 22 years (and love it here). Beth was born in Toronto, and I was born in Hamilton (and am still an avid Tiger-Cats football fan!) Many years ago, I preached at Grace Community Church, in St. Marys.

    I’m “retired” now–in quotation marks because, as many others seem to find, I’m as busy as ever! Though I do preach occasionally, filling in for pastors who must be away, much of my time is taken up with writing–mostly about our traditional hymns. In addition to my Christmas book, Discovering the Songs of Christmas, I have another, Discovering the Songs of Comfort, which is due out at Easter time. And Discovering the Songs of Calvary is nearing completion.

    My ministry has been in Baptist churches, and with the Associated Gospel Churches of Canada (a denomination that is baptistic in doctrine). My contact with the Anglican Church has been limited, though I have a good friend out here who’s an Anglican clergyman (Rev. Don Skinner, in Turtleford, SK). I’m not familiar with Arthur Poynter.

    Thanks for getting in touch. God bless.

  50. […] manipulation of our emotions. That confuses emotional excitement with spiritual edification. – R. Cottrill of […]

  51. What a wonderful blog! I’ve enjoyed my visit here very much and will be back! God bless your ministry through sharing precious hymns of the faith!–marycathd

  52. What a blessing this blog is!!!! I am thankful for people like you who are keeping these priceless songs alive…and the stories that go with them! I am book-marking this blog…by the way, hello neighbour!!! Hamilton is an hour from my house:)

    God Bless your ministry!

    • Thanks for your encouragement. As to being my neighbour…Yes, you are in a theological sense 🙂 . But I don’t live in Hamilton now. We’ve lived in Saskatchewan for the last 22+ years. Still, most of our family is in the Hamilton-Toronto area, so we may know some of the same people. Nice to meet you.

  53. Thanks Mr. Cottrill. Great reading. I love your stand!

    • Thanks back atcha! Drop by any time.

  54. Re “Be Still, My Soul”— Katharina Amalia Dorthea von Schlegel was BORN in 1697, rather than dying in that year as you have written. Numerous sources have her death year around 1768.

    • H-m-m… Not sure which of my hundreds of blog posts you’re referring to. I do know the dates of Katharina von Schlegel’s birth and death, and have a blog posted on the date of her birth here. If you have another post in mind, let me know the specifics, and I’ll gladly correct the error. (…Oops! Sincerest apologies. I see in the text of the above post I used the date of her birth instead of 1768 for her death. Thanks for your sharp eye.)

  55. Your blog is wonderful! I’m just now exploring it. Last week, I received a contract from Jebaire Publishing and will be working to get my book published this year with them. That is how I found your blog. Could you add an RSS Feed to your page so I will get a notice when you post something new? I have a WordPress blog, too. http://www.daybydayliz.com. Please visit and sign my guest book.

    Blessings to you,

    • Thanks for your interest in my blog. As to an RSS feed, I’ve had that explained to me, but still don’t know how it works (non-techie here!). Last year, I posted an article a day (quite a job!). This year, I’m posting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with a topical article added on Sunday, when I have one to share. Drop by any time.

  56. During research for a radio programme of hmns, I have found your blog. – and note your extensive research. I wonder if you can help me with a trivial question:Perhaps 50yrears or so ago the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph published an article about old hymns. The only verse I can recall was of Jonah’s reflection in the belly of the whale
    O what a dark and dreadful place
    With neither light nor candle
    With only fish’s tripe to eat
    And fish’s tripe to handle.

    Hardly likely to be found in modern hymnaries! But do you have any source for it?
    Thank you

    • Wow! That is an obscure one! I checked a few sources. But without either a title for the hymn, or the first line–which most indexes use–it’s pretty difficult. Sounds as though it might be one of the more obscure offerings of Watts or Wesley, but I’m not sure. I’ll send it along to a friend, who has some resources that I don’t, and I’ll get back to you if anything pops up. Thanks for sharing that.

  57. A gentleman from our church recently passed away. He was 101. He wanted the song “A Perfect Day” sung at his funeral — but no one could find such a song. The closest I could find was an Ackley hym with the words” When morning dawns, farewell to every sorrow … a perfect day is coming by and by. Do you have any idea what he meant by “A Perfect Day”? I have searched all the sites on line and cannot find anything. We really would like to find the lyrics to give to his daughter.
    Bless you for your work!

    • Well! Offhand, I know of no “hymn” with that title. I think what he had in mind is a lovely ballad, which certainly expresses noble sentiments. Here is the text:

      A PERFECT DAY (1909)
      Words and Music by Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862-1946)

      When you come to the end of a perfect day,
      And you sit alone with your thought,
      While the chimes ring out with a carol gay,
      For the joy that the day has brought,
      Do you think what the end of a perfect day
      Can mean to tired heart,
      When the sun goes down with a flaming ray,
      And the dear hearts have to part?
      Well, this is the end of a perfect day,
      Near the end of a journey, too,
      But it leaves a thought that is big and strong,
      With a wish that is kind and true.
      For mem’ry has painted this perfect day
      With colors that never fade,
      And we find at the end of a perfect day,
      The soul of a friend we’ve made.

      Now, a treat–at least, it was for me. Here is Rosa Ponselle (in an old recording probably made around a hundred years ago). Opera star Rosa Ponselle is considered the greatest soprano of the 20th century–one of the greatest voices ever.

  58. Hello Pastor Bob. I just stumbled on your site by googling the words Neander and cave. I had read about Neander having lived in a cave near Neanderthall and when I came across his name in a hymn history book I was just reading I wanted to find out more about that story.

    I enjoy reading about hymns and their history occasionally teaching a sunday school lesson on them which folks seem to enjoy. There’s always lots of interesting and faith inspiring information to share. This is quite a bibliography you have here. My library is much smaller.

    Here’s a trinket you may not have found yet. You can sing How Great Thou Art to the tune of Finlandia with little alteration (add two words “my Lord” or “my God”) and don’t reapeat the last phrase. I’v always enjoyed learning new hymn texts by singing them first to a familiar tune of the same meter. But How Great Thou Art is listed as irregular meter in several of my hymnals whereas Be Still My Soul is listed as

    • Well now! How Great Thou Art to the tune Finlandia. And your right. It fits very nicely, with the addition of a couple of words in the refrain (and without the repeat there):

      Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
      How great Thou art, my God, how great Thou art!

      That’s an idea worth trying–and passing on. (Thanks, Ed.) Though it mustn’t be overdone, there is benefit in a congregation singing a familiar hymn to a different tune. It calls attention to the words in a new way, and makes the message fresh. I discuss that, and give some examples, in my article About That Metrical Index. I’ve added your suggestion to the list.

      God bless. Drop by any time. 🙂

  59. Robert,

    Thank you for your comment on my blog this morning. I’m going to check out your article about ideas for promoting hymn singing!


    • Thanks, Carrie. Always good to find someone who enjoys the old hymns. If you have trouble finding the article on my site, it’s here. God bless.

  60. Robert,

    I need your help. I love the blogpost about Robert Robinson and his final redemption after the lady on the train story. I had never heard the end before. Can you please recommend a book, or other reference where the complete story is found? I need this to send to my pastor.
    Thank you,

    • Thanks for your question. It certainly got me digging! I’ve likely written on a thousand hymns, over the years, using many books in my own library, but others that were borrowed. I’ve also collected information with phone calls, letters and e-mails to those I thought would know more. It becomes difficult to trace where specific details came from.

      Robert Robinson seems to have lived a life of spiritual drift. He was “prone to wander,” as his hymn says. After his conversion, he was connected with the Calvanistic Methodists, then the Baptists, then the Church of England, and later with the Unitarians! He was also troubled at various times with an addiction to alcohol. But his repentance, when the woman confronted him in the coach, seems to have been real, at least for the time.

      Robert Barr, in his book on hymns, Praise Ye the Lord, mentions that the Lord did heal his backsliding (p. 50). Paul Lee Tan, in his Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations (p. 183), includes what happened after the woman showed Robinson his hymn and he replied, “I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” Tan’s article adds:

      Although greatly surprised, she reassured him that the “streams of mercy” mentioned in his song still flowed. Mr Robinson was deeply touched. Turning his “wandering heart” to the Lord, he was restored to full fellowship.

      I hope that’s a help. God bless. Drop by any time!

  61. Thank you for your timely response!
    I will look for the Robert Barr book and the Tan article too. Robert Robinson’s is a fascinating story. He really was ahead of his time in his scattered, ecumenical leanings. I don’t blame him for confusion. I realize he is buried with the Unitarians, but that’s okay too. The Unitarians have morphed and evolved over the years since, I believe.
    Thanks again,

    • Hi again,
      I hope my last post did not seem disrespectful. I am a Christian, and just searching for the right version of the story of Robert Robinson. I really appreciate your site, and love the old hymns. Thank you for sharing your research.
      God bless,

      • Can’t see anything “disrespectful” in your comment. Sounded fine to me. 🙂

        But you raise a good point. “Searching for the right version of the story.” That’s what I’ve been doing with the background of our hymns, for about 40 years. Many times, errors creep in, for one reason or another, and then they breed children. Someone simply copies what came before, and it becomes “fact.” I do try to prevent that, by going back as far as I can, with my sources, and finding multiple sources. I also look at the quality of the source (i.e. is this a recognized authority in the field).

        I also check autobiographies, when these are available. However, even these can be tricky. I got hold of a gospel song writer’s early account of the origin of one of his songs. Then, later, found another account he gave when he was an elderly man. The details were different! (Understandable. Memories fade.) I mention that to indicate that this is far from an exact science. I do my best, but wouldn’t “bet the farm” on the details. God bless.

  62. Robert,
    I’ve heard that the missionary was able to lead the little gypsy boy to
    faith in Jesus Christ. Do you know it that is correct/?
    Your website is wonderful and will prove to be a blessing to me as I
    browse it! May God continue to use your ministry to help and bless
    others! Sincerely, Charles Thompson

    • As far as I know, all that’s been reported about the incident is what I included on my blog page here. The song was first published in 1876, so the incident itself goes back a long way. If I discover more, I’ll try to include it on the page in the future.

  63. Dear Sir:


    I just want to ask if there is indeed a hymn from Charles Howard Marsh called ‘One Day’, is there?

    I am certain that someone had asked me about borrowing my comments and use it as a song and now the man who asked me claimed that he got the lyrics from an old hymn when he was 2yo. or so and that sounds fishy to me. I understand that it will be hard for the singer to explain that he borrowed it from a stranger and maybe the singer is protecting me too.

    Although if there really exist a hymn that has the same words as I have written then that I do not know.

    Could you please help me confirm about this? I am not going to cause trouble…I just want to make sure for myself and from you who knows more about hymns.

    Thank you so much.

    Jinrim Mott

    • Well there is a connection to the fine gospel song written by Wilbur Chapman. Charles Marsh wrote the tune for “One Day.” You can see information on both men on the Cyber Hymnal, here. Hope that’s a help.

  64. Just to let you know I’ve linked to your wonderful site on my blog. Thank you for your ministry here, it’s a blessing.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Drop by any time. 🙂

  65. Thanks so much for your work on this website–what a wonderful resource!
    May God continue to bless you.

  66. Just to share a hymn story: Be Still My Soul

    I prayed today for our son who is without a job and homeless, living in his car. He is a Christian, fifty years old, and has simply lost his job due to downsizing (no substance abuse, etc.); he also lost his business and his house….We would appreciate your agreement in prayer for him.

    After my time in the Word and prayer for him today, softly came the hymn I remembered so well, “Be Still My Soul.” “In every change, He faithful will remain; Be still my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend Thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.” I hummed it for awhile; then got my hymn book–that my children had gotten me in 1974–to verify the words. How comforting; how kind and gracious of the Lord to inspire Katharina von Schlegel, the English translator and Jean Sibelius so many years ago to provide this hymn, echoing down the years to me for today. God bless them–and thank you for this website today.

    Betty Bonn

  67. I was on another website looking for “Jesus, and Shall it Ever Be?” I have the words but I would like to hear the tune. You had left a comment about that hymn at that site along with an invitation to visit your own hymn website. However, when I typed in the hymn title here, there is no reference to it.

    Please let me know when you make the music for that hymn available.

    Thank you,

    Betty Bonn

    • Thanks for the question Betty. You can see a couple of possible tunes for the hymn Jesus and Shall It Ever Be on the Cyber Hymnal. I highly recommend the tune Rimington, but it needs to be taken a bit more slowly than it’s played for you there. (Click on the MIDI file if you don’t hear it.) The mood should be more quiet and reflective. The PDF file will give you a print-out of the tune. Hope that’s a help.

  68. Wow, I just came accross this blog. Praise God, Brother. I will be back and often!

    -Pastor Dave Peterman

    • Thanks for your encouragement. Drop by any time, and God bless.

      • I found it looking for information on hymnolgy. I am preparing a series for our church called “The Hymns We Sing” for Wednesday nights. I think it is of utmost importance we not only sing these great hymns but for our folks to thoroughly know and appreciate the history and doctrine behind them. This site looks tremendous!

      • Thank you for the encouragement brother. And you make an important point. That it’s possible to sing these great songs of the faith and do so without thinking of what they mean. I’ve taught hymnology in all kinds of settings, over the last forty years–even to Grades 7 and 8 in a Christian school. (Parents reported children actually opened their hymn books in the services and sang–and they were enthused to tell their parents more about how the hymn came to be written.)

        Currently, I’m doing a series of discussion Bible studies at our weekly mid-week Prayer Meeting called Our Sacred Songs and the Scriptures. Each hand-out tells a bit about the hymns author, and any details I know about what inspired the song. Then there are a series of a dozen or so questions. We go through the hymn stanza by stanza (often including ones not in our hymn book), and analyze them from a biblical point of view. In the end, we often sing a stanza or two.

        The response has been very enthusiastic. Not only is there a better understanding of the hymn, but a better grasp of the doctrines behind it. And, of course, when there is something in a hymn that isn’t true to the Word of God, I point that out too, reminding the folks that we need to get our doctrine from the Bible, not from our hymns.

        For you interest, below is the list of hymns I currently have studies on. This week, we’ll be dealing with It Is Well with My Soul, and I know folks are going to learn some things about the author that they’ve never heard before.

        God bless. If I can be of assistance, hunting down information on a particular song etc., just say the word.

        How Firm a Foundation
        Rock of Ages
        How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
        Peace, Perfect Peace
        Jesus, Lover of My Soul
        Great Is Thy Faithfulness
        Crown Him with Many Crowns
        A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
        Abide with Me
        At Calvary
        Our Great Saviour
        It Is Well with My Soul
        Amazing Grace
        Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
        What a Friend We Have in Jesus
        The Old Rugged Cross
        Just As I Am
        Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
        How Great Thou Art
        O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
        Tell Me the Old, Old Story
        and I Love to Tell the Story
        Be Still, My Soul

  69. Well Brother,

    I am interested in getting any information on all hymns that I can. I was leading “Channels Only” in our Christian school some time ago and decided to ask “What is a channel?” The answers convicted me. Our kids know the songs, know how to sing the songs, but don’t comprehend them. I asked a similar question to the congregation on another instance afterward… The understanding was lacking there. By the grace of God, we will remedy this by preaching on both the history and the message of the hymns.

    http://www.revonator.wordpress.com is my blog site where I post sermon outlines, Baptist History etc… our church website is http://www.cibc1.org. This site is wonderful!

  70. Thanks for such a great and informative site. I appreciate your efforts into helping maintain and promote the theology embodied in hymns.

    Donn LeVie Jr.
    Author of It’s All About HYMN: Essays on Reclaiming Sacred and Traditional Music for Worship–WINNER of the 2011 Global eBook Award for Christian Non-Fiction

    • Your encouragement is appreciated. I’ve been at this a lot of years, in one format or another, and am kind of on a mission not to let an appreciation for our traditional hymns and gospel songs vanish from the church. There’s too much of doctrinal and devotional worth in them to carelessly abandon our heritage. God bless.

  71. Hi Robert~
    You’ve popped by my blog a couple times “Thou My Soul’s Glory”. I have a question for you. My husband and I were asked to sing for a funeral. The hymn requested is called “He Ransomed Me” by J.W. Henderson. I have scoured the internet trying to find the story behind the hymn or anything biographical about the composer and I can’t find a single thing. There was a reference to Jeremiah 31: 11, but that’s it. Any thoughts? Thanks! ~SKW

    • Thanks for the question Susan. Well, let’s see. J. W. Henderson was an obscure composer of whom we have no information but the name. However, the gospel song He Ransomed Me (“There’s a sweet and blessed story…”) was not written by him. He only provided the melody.

      The author of the text was Julia Harriette Johnson. You can see my biographical note about her here (second item). And I notice that the Cyber Hymnal’s brief biography lists 363 of the 500 hymns she wrote here. Hymnary.org also has a biographical note on the author here.

      Unfortunately, I know of no particular story behind the hymn itself. I checked a couple of dozen resources, but with no success. I hope the bits and pieces of information above will be of some use. Jeremiah 31:11 refers to the national restoration of Israel (see vs. 10-12). For the spiritual ransom of lost sinners, on this side of the cross, see Mk. 10:45 and I Tim. 2:5-6. God bless.

  72. Your blog is a great place to read. Growing up in a very similar situation as you, I find a wonderful resource in ‘my own memory’ because so many of the rich hymnody is there for me to call up during the day. Also, during certain crisis times in my life, it has been one of the traditional hymns that has come to me and I have stopped to listen. In this way I have heard wonderful comfort from our Lord, himself, ministering to me personally.

    • Thanks for your kind note. And I completely agree. Knowing the great old hymns gives us a “devotional vocabulary” that the Lord can bring to mind in a variety of situations. In times of distress, how often I’ve been reminded of Joseph Scriven’s words in What a Friend We Have in Jesus:

      Are we weak and heavy laden,
      Cumbered with a load of care?
      Precious Saviour, still our refuge–
      Take it to the Lord in prayer.

  73. I stumbled upon your blog while trying to dig some information on an old hymn, and it looks like you may be my best bet so far to find an answer.

    A number of years ago I read a story about an atheist who told his believing friend that hymn writing was so simple and formulaic that anyone could do it, and after being challenged he wrote a hymn that surprisingly ended up becoming popular and went into widespread use.

    Years later while attending the funeral of a friend (not sure if it was the same one as before) his hymn was played during the service, and he broke down while listening to it and was saved.

    It’s a wonderful and amazing story (even as poorly told as I just did), and I would like to use it at times to inspire others, but, I unfortunately no longer remember the name of the hymn, the hymn writer, nor of any way to verify the story itself, and I would not want to risk being incorrect in some way by not knowing the “facts” of the story and thereby casting a shadow on Christ to others.

    If you know of this hymn and its story, or of some way or place that I could find the information, I would be very grateful for your help.

    Thank you for your time reading this, as well as any response you can offer, and for the time you spend in offering so much depth into hymnody and such to others via your blog.

    May our great God and Glorious King bless you and yours richly.

    • Thanks for your interesting note. And, yes, you have the story essentially correct. The man’s name was D. R. Van Sickle, and the song he wrote, All Hail, Immanuel, is posted on the Cyber Hymnal here. The words are certainly solid. Our church choir used to sing the hymn years ago.

      I wish I had more information on the author. So far it’s only a name. The above song was published in 1910, with gospel musician Charles Gabriel supplying to tune, so that gives us some idea of when Van Sickle lived. He seems to have written other Christian songs after his conversion: My Heart Is Singing All the Time, and Open Your Heart to Jesus. God bless.

  74. That’s the hymn alright! Just one of those memory glitches that wouldn’t let me “see” it I guess.

    Thanks so much for your help (and so quickly!), I now will feel confident enough to pass the story along to others without worrying about saying only “this guy” to identify it – and I’ll try and dig further myself with the added info you provided me.

    Thank you again, and God bless.

  75. Dear Bob,
    I have just come across your hymn blog and find it fascinating reading. I’ve written two new hymns and would love your ideas on what hymnals might be considering revised editions and some details about how best to submit them for consideration. I would appreciate your ideas!

    • Thanks for your encouragement. I’m sorry I don’t have much knowledge about the hymn book publishing business, being mainly a writer and researcher. You might try a Google search of hymn book publishers, to find some addresses to send the material too. I wish you well.

  76. I need help and you have helped me before finding difficult to locate hymns. I recently acquired a CD by the West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir which contains a hymn with a German name – Ich bête an die Macht der Liebe. I may have heard it before but I don’t remember where. I have it on another CD with the name How Great in Zion. However, I can’t find it anywhere else. Nothing turns up on the internet but there are a bunch of YouTubes with choirs and individuals singing it. Where did they get it? Any help you can give me will be appreciated sincerely. You have helped me twice before. One time was finding Abide With Me Tis Eventide, which appeared to be a Mormon hymn and I could not find that anywhere else ut the Mennonites happen to like that also and you led me to two music books on Amazon containing it. Hope you have some info on this one too.

    • Looks as though this is a fairly recent hymn, and I deal mainly in older traditional hymns and gospel songs. I see that Hymnary.org lists one hymn book where the hymn is found, here. I hope you’re able to follow it up from there. God bless.

  77. Hello! I just happened about this website/blog and must say thanks to all for sharing. I too love researching and learning about hymns and their authors. What fellowship sweet! I do have a question. I have a book, “Stories of the Great Hymns of the Church” by Silas H. Paine. It contains hymn stories listed by number. I wondering if there is a book to match these stories with the hymns themselves?? Can you assist? Many thanks for all your work and contributions. I have been using cyberhymnal for years (now with a new name). One of my favorite hymn writers is Lucy Bennett.
    Thanks again!

    • Thanks for visiting Lucy. Glad to have you back any time. 🙂 I checked Mr. Paine out on the Net, as I don’t happen to have his book in my growing library. (Ordered a copy.) I’ll know more when I actually have the volume in hand. God bless.

  78. Hi there, please have a look at my free e-learning course on Basic Piano Hymn Playing. Thanks.


  79. Always good to read about the inspired book, precious blood and blessed hope. I enjoyed reading this page https://wordwisehymns.com/2010/06/17/today-in-1703-john-wesley-born/ but may I respectfully point out that despite a family of writing that has perpetuated the myth, John Wesley, was simply John (or Jack to his father) and had no middle name. Hope that is okay to point out – I would not want people to navigate away from your site which is so helpful because of a simple error on this page. God bless.

    For further information on common errors about Wesley see Dr McGonigle’s review of British politician, Roy Hattersley’s book here. There is a reference to the middle name error. http://www.wesley-fellowship.org.uk/A%20Brand%20From%20The%20Burning.html

  80. ” No sudden rending of the veil of clay”

    What is the ‘veil of clay’


    • Coming in the second stanza of George Croly’s hymn Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart, the line provides an insightful prayer couched in beautiful lines of verse. He says:

      I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
      No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
      No angel visitant, no opening skies;
      But take the dimness of my soul away.

      He means that his desire and greatest need is not for some miraculous intervention–dreams, visions, angels to come to him, and so on. Rather, he wants simply to have greater spiritual insights into the things of God–by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.

      “The veil of clay” is the human body, and its limited physical senses. That our bodies are made of “clay” speaks of man’s creation from “the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7), and it is a veil in the sense that it hides spiritual realities. We cannot see or touch God with our physical senses. We need the spiritual perception that comes through faith in Christ and the work of the indwelling Spirit of God.

      When Christ was crucified, there was a “rending of the veil of clay” for us all. His torn body removed the veil and gave us spiritual access into the presence of God (Heb. 10:19-22). That is the significance of the supernatural tearing of the veil before the holy of holies in the temple, when Christ died (Matt. 27:50-51).

  81. Hello Robert.
    Let me first introduce myself. I am Alan Frankham from Queensland, Australia and currently serve as a Jail Chaplain in a state Correctional Centre.
    A lot of years ago I heard Redd Harper sing a song called “The Answer Man” and my best recollection of it is that it went something like this,
    “I don’t know all the answers but I know the Answer Man,
    I can’t solve all my problems but I know the one who can,
    I have a direct wire unto the Lord above who has answered my each and every prayer,
    He’s the Man with the answers, I’m glad I know the answer man.”
    My request is do you possibly know the song and where I might obtain copy of the correct words and music?
    May God bless you, Alan Frankham

  82. I am looking for a hymnal that records the date of birth and date of death of the hymn writers and also the date of the hymn when written under the title of the hymn. I would figure out how old the hymn writers were and how old they were when they wrote the hymn–fascinating!


    • I know of no hymnal that gives all three dates. Great Hymns of the Faith, and the newer Rejoice Hymns (from Majesty Music) give the dates of birth and death for authors and composers, but not of the date the hymn was written. Actually, I’ve thought of publishing a hymnal with more information like that, but that’s a big (and expensive) undertaking. The easiest way to the the information you want is to make use of the Cyber Hymnal. Thanks for the question, and God bless.

  83. Would you happen to have a list of hymnals from 1940-1970? Or know where I could find that information? I’ve looked online for such a list but haven’t come across one yet. I’ve gone on ebay and looked for hymnals but all the ones I’ve seen are not the one I seek.
    Thanks for your help–I love your blog!

    • Thanks for the encouragement. You ask a good question. Have you checked Hymnary.org? They have a list of over 5,000 hymn books here. Hope that’s enough. 🙂

  84. Mr. Cotrill, I serve on a church staff in Stillwater, Oklahoma. During the seasons of Advent and Lent our church provides a “reader” for the members of our church family in order to provide more time to dwell upon these significant moments in our faith history.

    This year we have been investing our time with a long look at hymnology–a rich heritage, as you well know!

    Each daily reading this year makes use of hymns (new and old, but mostly from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries) as a means for prayer and reflection. Your time and effort on this site has provided so much background and insight for our little reader (and you’ve been appropriately cited of course!)

    But I just wanted to take the opportunity to THANK you for all of the time and energy you’ve invested over the years to put this website together. It has been invaluable, and it’s content will no-doubt leave an impression on many including the church family at University Heights in Stillwater.

    With peace and gratitude!


    • My! What a delightful note! Thank you very much. And you’re certainly right about the hours spent. I started looking at the origins of our hymnody over fifty years ago. Especially over the last ten or twelve years, many hours each week have been devoted to the subject. Along with the blog, and a weekly newspaper column, I’m working on a second book on hymns. Thanks again for the encouragement. God bless you and your congregation.

  85. Mr. Cottrill, I notice in your post on O Day of Rest and Gladness, you give a bit of background information about the hymn–particularly its origin–and about Christopher Wordsworth himself. I was wondering if you could share your source for the information that you provided in that post.

    • Thank you for your interest. But it’s not easy to give you exact information on the source–probably there were several. For one thing, the article on O Day of Rest and Gladness was likely posted a year ago or more. (I work on these posts months ahead.) My memory’s not that good! As you see in the “Resources,” I have sixty or seventy books on hymns in my library. Add to that details I obtain on the Net, or through phone calls and e-mails to other sources.

      With a quick check, I see that some of the information appears in 101 More Hymn Stories, by Ken Osbeck, and some is found in Stories of the Great Hymns of the Church, by Silas Paine. If those were my sources, or where else I hunted for details, I can’t say.

  86. Thank you so much for your efforts to bring light on the hymns stories. I really enjoy reading them. I’m also a pastor, and just took some part of the story of the Spiritual Were You There, for a sermon that I’m preparing. May God bless you abundantly.

  87. Hello Bob, I would like to make a copy of a few of your lessons/commentaries of hymns for a small group in our church. I have looked for something just like this and came upon it looking for the history and Biblical foundation for some of the hymns we sing. Can I have your permission to make copies (12) of 8 if your articles. What a blessing

    • Sure, no problem with what you want to do. I would appreciate it, however, if you would identify where you got each one, by including the URL of the blog wordwisehymns.com

      I’ve actually got 22 discussion Bible studies on familiar hymns that I’d like to put on the site at some point. But I seem to have a number of projects on the go and it gets put to the bottom of the to-do list! 🙂 God bless.

  88. Thank you Robert, I will most definitely include the URL and credit on the study.
    I was telling my husband, a fellow Canadian from Cambridge (Galt) about your blog. He was quite interested read your bio to see if your paths may have crossed over time, I will have to pull it up for him.

  89. Thank you, Robert, this site has been very helpful for me I am planning to record a number of hymns soon and this site has been a great resource. Thank you again

    • I applaud anything you can do to make people aware of the wonderful heritage we have in our hymnody. God bless.

  90. How do I obtain a hymnbook or song from you?
    “Conflict of the Ages” — Lelia Norris

    • Actually, I’m just a writer. I don’t send out books or music. But you can find the hymn on the Cyber Hymnal here. And if you click on the little Adobe Reader sign you’ll have a copy of the words and music that you can print off. God bless.

  91. I found your site when looking for an explanation of the Metrical Index of Tunes in my hymnal. Thanks for all the hard work and information.

    • Thanks for your gracious words dean. I find the Metrical Index useful myself many times. Have a great day!

  92. Do you know the song called Be careful for nothing whose first refrain is O Christian, let not sordid. This hymn is written by William Carey. Kindly, can you help me find the lyrics and its tune?

    • Sorry, I can’t help you on this one. Don’t know it myself; the Cyber Hymnal doesn’t have it; Hymnary.org does acknowledge its existence here, but has no information on it. Sounds interesting though. Maybe another reader of my blog can help you. God bless.

  93. Good morning! I appreciate the work you have done and refer others to your site for hymn information. God bless! Reread your biography! Blessings as you continue to serve the Master!

    • Thanks so much. Struggling some this morning–with a nagging health problem. And your words of encouragement were a special blessing.

  94. I wish you and your family Joyous Christmas. Your weekly blog is a special blessing. At 84 years my life spans the period in America and Canada where things of our LORD were hallowed far more than it seems today. I thank HIM for my time period on earth.

    I am unable to join with my own church in what they call worship. It so so hard to keep back the tears. I look forward to the celestial time when the music will absolutely honor HIM. Even if there is some of this new stuff there, HE will have made me perfectly capable to join in praises to HIM.

    • Ah, my friend, I grieve for the same thing regarding the music of the church. In our church, we still sing hymns and use a hymn book, mostly because our young pastor (who knows little about them) gave me the job. However, he occasionally substitutes the recording of a raucous rock number for one of the hymns. It makes me feel sick at heart.

      And yesterday, as my wife and I were heading home, a couple of young women were practicing songs they plan to sing at the Christmas Eve Service tonight. One had repetitious words, with the accompanying recorded accompaniment cranked up to the extreme. (My wife, as the accompanist for the carols, plans to be there, but I just can’t handle it.)

      We are a small church, with a very small sanctuary. In truth, amplification is not needed at all. And do folks not realize that to raise the amplified sound to a deafening level, or accompany songs with a pounding beat, is to copy the world in a way that borders on the blasphemous? When Israel was tempted to do that, God expressly forbade it (Deut. 12:29-32).

      The beat either expresses outrage and anger, or it, frankly, mimics sexual intercourse. (Purveyors of the music have confessed this.) But is that the message we’re trying to send in God’s house? The high volume level is used to create an excitement and an overpowering experience. Again, do we need that? Our excitement should come from contemplating the Lord and His blessings, described in His Word, and experienced in our lives (cf. Ps. 28:7). We don’t need to generate artificial excitation. It should come from within our hearts.

      I’ve probably said some of these things before, but it’s hard not to get to preachin’! To abandon the hymns of the church is such a tragedy. On a bulletin insert yesterday I printed four lines from a hymn by Frances Bevan. They bless me every time I read them. She says of heaven: “He and I in that bright glory, / One deep joy shall share– / Mine, to be forever with Him; / His, that I am there.” My, oh my! Think of that!

      God bless you this Christmas season, and through the coming year.

  95. Thank God for lovers of beauty and truth

    • We “lovers of beauty and truth” do our best. Some are hungry for it. Others seem a bit tone deaf. But we keep at it, by God’s grace. God bless.

  96. Dear Sir,

    Thank you for this website and all your work on it.
    I have a question I hope you might help me with please.

    I am looking for CD’s, mp3’s, etc. of traditional (older, e.g. 1600, 1700’s) Christian hymns … singing … whether choir, solo, accompanied with instruments or acappella — the singing is the main thing…. and where *all* the stanzas are sung… not just the 2 or 3 popular stanzas.

    Sir, do you know if any such recordings exist? … or maybe something close?

    Thank you very much,

    Robert Wood

    • Sorry to say I know of no such project. Sounds like quite an interesting idea. I know in the 1940’s, opera star John Charles Thomas planned a weekly radio program with the King’s Men Quartet in which they would basically sing through the hymn book. John’s father was a preacher. Whether the son was a born again believer or not, I don’t know. But he sang the hymns in church in his younger years and learned to love them. He remains my favourite singer–of a wide variety of music.

      Recordings of some of those wonderful broadcasts are still available. I have several–for example this one here, and this one here, on a vinyl record. But no attempt was made to research and sing every stanza of the original hymns.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful. God bless.

  97. Just now saw your reply, sir. Thanks!

  98. Mr. Cottrill, I was searching…and searching….the Web for a new hymnal for our church, when I ran across your website. How I do so appreciate your wise words on music in the church. We are a small rural church in southern Ohio, a very traditional Baptist church. We still use hymnals and still love the old hymns of the faith, the ones with deep spiritual meaning. We are just completing a new auditorium and don’t have enough hymnals to fill the pews, so it seemed a good time to see what else is out there (our current ones are showing wear, as well). I did not realize how expensive hymnals have become. I even thought, with so many churches sadly going away from their use that I may be able to find some decent used ones. I will continue my search but will be forever glad that I found you on my journey. There is much I could say, but you have already said it so well. So, I will leave it with a hearty and heartfelt Amen! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your research. I will be spending much time here as I read about the hymns I love so dearly.

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