Many books in my library have been used to gather information for the almanac feature of this blog. These resources span over 130 years (more, if we count reprints). Some volumes are out of print and unavailable now. And to augment the information they contain, my study over the years has also involved web searches, e-mails, letters and phone calls to dig out the facts. The Bibliography also recognizes the great help I have found at the Cyber Hymnal website–a site to which I have been an occasional contributor. Also included below is a sampling of hymnals and song books that were useful. (I have dozens more that could have been listed.)

Reference Books

Anderson, Robert, and North, Gail. Gospel Music Encyclopedia. New York: Sterling Publishing Company Incorporated, 1979.

Avery, Gordon. Companion to the Song Book of the Salvation Army. London: Salvationist Publishing and Supplies Limited, 1961.

Bailey, Albert E. The Gospel in Hymns. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950.

Barr, Robert. Praise Ye the Lord! Toronto: Evangelical Publishers, 1949.

Barrows, Cliff, and Hustad, Donald P. Crusader Hymns. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing Company, 1966.

Baxter, Clarice, and Polk, Videt. Gospel Song Writers Biography. Dallas: Stamps-Baxter Music & Printing Company, 1971

Beattie. David J. The Romance of Sacred Song. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, Ltd., 1931.

Benson, Louis F. The Hymnody of the Christian Church. Richmond: John Knox Press, 1956 (reprinted from 1927).

______. Studies of Familiar Hymns (Second Series). Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1923.

Breed, David R. The History and Use of Hymns and Hymn Tunes. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1903.

Brown, Theron, and Butterworth, Hezekiah. The Story of the Hymns and Tunes. New York, 1906 (Kindle Edition).

Christ-Janer, Albert, and Hughes, Charles W., and Smith, Carleton Sprague, American Hymns Old and New. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980

Clark, W. Thorburn. Stories of Fadeless Hymns. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1949.

Collins, Andrew (Ace). Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

Cottrill, Robert. Discovering the Songs of Christmas. Snellville, Georgia: Jebaire Publishing, 2009.

Cottrill, Robert. Music in the Christian Life. Pambrun, Saskatchewan: Millar College of the Bible, 1995 (published in-house, for a course of the same name).

Crafts, Wilbur Fisk. Song Victories of the Bliss and Sankey Hymns. Boston: D. Lothrop and Company, 1877.

Crosby, Frances Jane (Fanny). Memories of Eighty Years. Boston: James H. Earle and Company, 1906.

Crosby, Frances Jane (Fanny). The Treasures of Fanny Crosby. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing Inc., 2003.

Dearmer, Percy, and Williams, R. Vaughan, and Shaw, Martin. The Oxford Book of Carols. London, Oxford University Press, 1928.

Duffield, Samuel Willoughby. English Hymns: Their Authors and History. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1886.

Duncan, Homer. A Compilation of 1,521 Great Songs of the Christian Faith.  Lubbock, Texas: Missionary Crusader, 1982.

Emurian, Ernest K. Famous Stories of Inspiring Hymns. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1956.

Erickson, J. Irving. Sing It Again! A Handbook on The Covenant Hymnal. Chicago: Covenant Press, 1985.

Gariepy, Henry. Songs in the Night. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.

Gordon, T. David. Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P. & R. Publishing, 2010.

Guest, William. P. P. Bliss Songwriter. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Ambassador, 1877, reprinted 1997.

Hall, Jacob Henry. Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers.  New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1914.

Herzel, Catherine and Frank. To Thee We Sing. Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1946.

Hopkins, Antony, forward. Colour Library Book of Great Composers. Godalming, Surrey, England: Colour Library Books Ltd., 1993.

Horder, William Garrett. The Hymn Lover: An Account of the Rise and Growth of English Hymnody. London: J. Curwen and Sons, Ltd., 1905.

Hustad, Donald P. Dictionary-Handbook to Hymns for the Living Church. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing Company, 1978.

Julian, John, ed. Dictionary of Hymnology. 2 vols. London: J. Murray, 1907. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1985 reprint).

Kavanaugh, Patrick. The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers. Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1992.

Kerr, Phil. Music in Evangelism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.

King, James. Anglican Hymnology: Being an Account of the 325 Standard Hymns of the Highest Merit According to the Verdict of the Whole Anglican Church. London: Hatchards, Picadilly, 1885.

Konkel, Wilbur. Living Hymn Stories. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1971.

Lawson, John. The Wesley Hymns. Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press, 1987.

Long, Edwin M. Illustrated History of Hymns and Their Authors. Philadelphia: P. W. Ziegler & Company, 1876.

Lorenz, Ellen Jane. Two Hundred Hymn Stories. Dayton: Lorenz Publishing Co., 1941.

Lloyd, Norman. The Golden Encyclopedia of Music. New York: Golden Press, 1968.

Ludwig, Charles. Sankey Still Sings. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1947.

McCutchan, Robert Guy. Our Hymnody. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1937.

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003.

Mouw, Richard J, & Noll, Mark A, eds. Wonderful Words of Life–Hymns in American Protestant History and Theology. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2004.

Newton, John. Out of the Depths–An Autobiography. Chicago: Moody Press, reprinted letters from 1764.

Nutter, Charles S., and Wilbur F. Tillet. The Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Church. New York: Eaton and Mains Publishers, 1911.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990.

______. 52 Hymn Stories Dramatized. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1992.

______. 101 More Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publication, 1985.

______. Singing With Understanding. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1979.

Paine, Silas H. Stories of the Great Hymns of the Church. New York: Flexo Printing Company, 1926.

Parker, John H. Abide With Me. Green Forest, Arkansas: New Leaf Press, 2009.

Petersen, William J., and Petersen, Ardythe. Hymns. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2006.

Reynolds, William J. Companion to Baptist Hymnal. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976.

______. Hymns of Our Faith. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1964.

Rizk, Helen Salem. Stories of the Christian Hymns. Nashville: Abingdon, 1964.

Rodeheaver, Homer A., Hymnal Handbook for Standard Hymns and Gospel Songs. Chicago: The Rodeheaver Company, 1931.

Rodeheaver, Homer A. Song Stories of the Sawdust Trail. New York: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1917.

Rudin, Cecilia Margaret. Stories of Hymns We Love. Chicago: John Rudin & Company Inc., 1946 (reprinted from 1934).

Ruffin, Bernard. Fanny Crosby. Westwood, New Jersey: Barbour and Company Inc., 1976.

Sankey, Ira D. My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns. Amsterdam: Fredonia Books, 2003 (reprinted from the 1907 edition).

Sanville, George W. Forty Gospel Hymn Stories. Winona Lake: The Rodheaver-Hall Mack Co., 1944.

Sellers, Ernest Orlando. Elements of Musical Notation and Conducting. Nashville, Broadman Press, 1938.

Shea, George Beverly. How Sweet the Sound.  Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale Publishing House Incorporated, 2004.

Sheppard, W. J. Limmer. Great Hymns & Their Stories. London: Lutterworth Press, 1923.

Smith, Alfred B. Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories. Grand Rapids: Dickinson Press Incorporated, 1981.

Smith, Jane Stuart, and Carlson, Betty. A Gift of Music. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1978.

Smith, Oswald. Oswald Smith’s Hymn Stories. Winona Lake: The Rodeheaver Company, 1963.

Spencer, Donald A. Hymn and Scripture Selection Guide. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1977.

Stanley, John. Classical Music. Pleasantville, New York: Reader’s Digest, 1994.

Stebbins, George C. Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1924.

Telford, John. The Methodist Hymn Book Illustrated. London:  Charles H. Kingsley, 1906

Terry, Lindsay. Stories Behind Popular Songs and Hymns. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990.

Watson, J. R., ed. An Annotated Anthology of Hymns. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Wells, Amos R. A Treasury of Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1945.

Wiersbe, Warren W. Scriptures That Sing. Lincoln, Nebraska: Back to the Bible, 1986.

Woychuk, N. A., ed. The Poetic Interpretation of the Psalms by Isaac Watts. St. Louis: Miracle Press, 1974.

Young, Carlton R. Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1993.

Hymnals and Song Books

Biggs, Louis Coutier, ed. Hymns Ancient and Modern (facsimile of 1867 edition). LaVergne, Tennessee: Kessinger Publishing’s Legacy Reprints, 2009.

Bock, Fred, ed. Hymns for the Family of God. Nashville: Paragon Associates, Inc., 1976.

Carmichael, Ralph, ed. The New Church Hymnal. Lexicon Music, Inc., 1976.

Fettke, Tom, ed. The Celebration Hymnal. Mobile, Alabama: Word Music / Integrity Music, 1997.

Garlock, Frank, ed. Majesty Hymns. Greenville, South Carolina: Majesty Music Inc., 1997.

Gilbert, T. B. and Gilbert, Elma Doehring, ed. Choice Hymns of the Faith. Fort Dodge, Iowa: Gospel Perpetuating Fund, 1946.

Hustad, Donald P., ed. Hymns for the Living Church. Carol Stream, Illinois: Hope Publishing Company, 1974.

______. Worship and Service Hymnal. Carol Stream Illinois: Hope Publishing Company, 1957.

Newton, John, and Cowper, William. Olney Hymns, facsimile of 1779 edition. Olney, Bucks, England: The Trustees of the Cowper and Newton Museum, 1984.

Niagara, Wilmot, ed. The Book of Common Praise. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1938.

Peterson, John W., ed. Great Hymns of the Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1968.

Peterson, John W., and Johnson, Norman, ed. Praise: Our Songs and Hymns. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1981.

Rose, S. P., ed. Methodist Hymn and Tune Book. Toronto: William Briggs, 1917.

Sankey, Ira D. ed. Sacred Songs and Solos. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, Ltc.

Smith, Alfred B., ed. Living Hymns. Montrose, Pennsylvania: Encore Publications Inc., 1972.

Spurgeon, Charles. H., ed. Our Own Hymn Book. Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publication, 1975 reprint.

Stanphill, Ira and Benson, John T., ed. Heartwarming Songs. West Palm Beach, Florida: Hymntime Publishers, 1956.

(Editors unknown) Golden Bells. London: C.S.S.M., 1931 (original publication, 1890).

(Editors unknown) Redemption Songs. Glasgow: Pickering and Inglis.

(Editors unknown) The Believers Hymn Book. London: Pickering and Inglis Ltd.

(Editors unknown) The Canadian Hymnal. Toronto: William Briggs, 1911.

A Website

Adams, Dick, ed. The Cyber Hymnal. A compilation of over 9,700 hymns, providing the words, music (audio), history, and more, of the songs. Established in 1996.


  1. Hello! I’m in the process of editing a book and am trying to secure permission to print lyrics from ‘Trust and Obey’ by Daniel B. Towner and John H. Sammis. Would you have any advice on who to contact to get the necessary permission for publication of my book?

    Thank you for any and all information!


    • I have good news for you, Sabrina. The hymn “Trust and Obey” was published in 1887 and has long been in the public domain. No permission needed. Usually, copyright only lasts 75 years, unless it is renewed. That means any song published before 1934 that does not have a renewed copyright is fair game. Good thing. Getting permission can be a run-around, and sometimes expensive. I’m glad that the publisher of a book I have coming out this fall takes care of all that for me.

  2. Can you find the hymn which includes the following lines-
    And above the rest,
    His note shall swell
    He doeth all tnings well

    • No problem. It is a Mormon hymn, written by William Clayton in 1846. It’s about the cult’s trek westward, led by Brigham Young, to find a place to live. (Clayton was in the company.) You can see the original in the Cyber Hymnal.

      However, there is a Christian version of the hymn too–one that I much prefer, not being a Mormon. Avis Christiansen took some of the first stanza, but the rest of the song is her own–talking not about an earthly home in the western USA, but about our future home in heaven. (You can find the hymn in Hymns for the Living Church. It uses the same tune as the original.) Here are the lyrics.

      Come, come ye saints, no toil nor labour fear,
      But with joy wend your way;
      Though hard to you life’s journey may appear,
      Grace shall be as your day,
      God’s hand of love shall be your guide,
      And all your need He will provide;
      His pow’r shall every foe dispel,
      All is well, all is well!

      What though the path you tread be rough and steep?
      Have no fear, He is near!
      His mighty arm unto the end will keep;
      Soon His call you shall hear.
      Then follow on, fresh courage take,
      For God His own will ne’er forsake,
      Till in His presence they shall dwell!
      All is well, all is well!

      God hath prepared a glorious Home above
      Round His throne, for His own,
      Where they may rest forever in His love,
      Toil and tears all unknown.
      There they shall sing eternal praise
      To Him who saved them by His grace.
      Through heaven’s courts the song shall swell,
      All is well, all is well!

      With longing hearts we wait the promised day
      When the trump we shall hear,
      That summons us from earthly cares away,
      At His side to appear!
      But until then we’ll labour on
      In patience till our course is run,
      Although the hour we may not tell,
      All is well, all is well!

      • Dear Sir, Samuel Medley wrote a hymn in 1776 entitled “Now, in a Song of Grateful Praise” that includes several variations of this biblical phrase in its ten verses. Would it not be probable that the Mormons then used it as the basis for their song? We sang this song in Canada from the Redemption Songs hymnbook (I believe, or it could have been Sankey’s Sacred Songs & Solos, both good hymnbooks).

      • Thanks for your note. Yes, you are correct about Medley’s 1776 hymn. It’s in both Sankey’s book and Redemption Songs–though using only four of the stanzas there, and adding a refrain. But yes, the original hymn had ten fine stanzas. I can recall singing it as a boy, in a church that used Sacred Songs & Solos as a hymn book.

        But of the answer to your actual question, I’m not sure. I know the Mormons use many Christian hymns–sometimes altering them to suit their doctrines. And I seem to recall the Tabernacle Choir doing something similar to Medley’s song, but I can’t give you a firm answer. Thanks for your question though. It got me digging into other sources. has all ten stanzas here. God bless.

  3. Just a quick question – Do you know where our church could get copies of The New Church Hymnal? We have been trying to replace our originals because they are worn out and we love that hymnal! We almost were able to purchase 60 but I missed it by 1 day. Any response would be appreciated. We have been looking for 8-10 years. Thanks

    • Well, Ralph Carmichael’s New Church Hymnal‘s not a bad hymn book. I use mine from time to time. But I believe it’s now out of print. You might find someplace on the Web that advertises used church supplies, or even used hymnals. Sometimes a church will make a change and the old books simply gather dust in a cupboard. Or you could check with denominational offices as to whether they know of one of their churches that have some available. But the fact that you’ve been looking for 8-10 years suggests it’s unlikely you’ll find any.

      My counsel to you, based on many years of experience, is that you prayerfully consider purchasing a new book. I know folks have enjoyed the old one. But I think you’ll find if the choice is made carefully that most will soon come to love the new one. And it could have the advantage of introducing them to some songs that are new to them, to add to their old favourites.

      I have no information on your doctrinal position or worship style, or even on the size of your congregation. But you should at least take a careful look at the newly revised Living Hymns, with its 850+ songs. (A great hymnal, that would probably be my first choice.) Or if you’re a smaller church, with a limited budget, consider Great Hymns of the Faith. With around 530 songs, it’s a bit smaller than your present book, but it’s also quite reasonably priced. I often have a copy close at hand as I work, and have grown to respect John Peterson’s carefully assembled collection more and more.

      Let me give you a link to an extensive article I wrote on how to choose a new hymn book for your church. You’ll find all kinds of valuable tips and suggestions there.

      God bless you as you consider what to do about this important tool for church ministry.

  4. I am trying to get permission to quote the full text of the hymn “Majesty” in a book. I believe it is by Jack Hayford. Do you know where I can get permission?

    • Yes, you are correct. The late Jack Hayford wrote the chorus “Majesty.” The copyright date is 1976. As to tracing who holds the publishing rights and getting permission to quote it, I’m not an expert on such things. When I recently published a book on Christmas hymns and carols (Discovering the Songs of Christmas), my publisher took care of all that. You might try the Music Publishing Assocation at:

  5. What site can I find the biograhy of hymn writers and stories behinds the hymns. Currently I am looking something on MHN 551, All things are poosible to Him, for this sunday. Please help

    • You can always get some basic information from the Cyber Hymnal, but perhaps I can help you further. Does “MHN” represent a particular hymn book? If you give me the name of the hymn, and perhaps the first line, I’ll see what I can tell you about its history.

  6. Do you know where I can find the history behind John Rudin, the author of The Book of Life? I have the set and I am interested in the back ground history of the Author.

    Thank you.



    • Sorry, I can’t help you with that. My site is specifically geared to informing folks about the history of hymns and gospel songs, and their authors. John C. Rudin and Company appears to be one of the publishers of The Book of Life series that first appeared in 1906. That’s about all I can tell you.

    • I found in my home library the 7th Volume of the Book Of Life, Paul Life Letters. It was published in 1923 and has beautiful tooling all over the leather-bound book. This is a precious publication with beautiful and extensive pictures and maps. Anything you find out regarding this set, I would be grateful to know.

      Thanks so much,


      • H-m-m… Well, not exactly a hymn question, but I can help you a bit. The full set (8 volumes) is available from Amazon, as well as from various private sellers.

  7. I’ve been looking for the title for a song with these lyrics:

    (4/4 time) Surrendered to the perfect will of God
    I dare not give Him less.
    Though He should lead my steps from here abroad,
    I want His will my life to bless.
    (3/4 time) Whatever He wants for me,
    His will, His will I must know.
    Wherever He wants to send me,
    His will, His will: I must go.
    If He but speaks, I’ll obey at His voice.
    I’ve already decided His will is my choice.
    Whatever He wants for me,
    His will, His will I must do.

    I’ve heard it on an Aunt Bea/Uncle Charlie recording, but I can’t find music for it because I don’t know what it’s called. Thanks!

    • Well! My, oh my! Your inquiry certainly led me on an interesting quest! After checking two dozen or so resources I had on hand, I thought I was going to come up empty. But persistence is my middle name. Bit by bit I unraveled the clues, and finally found the song. The actual title is “Whatever He Wants for Me.” It was written in the ’60’s by Louis Paul Lehman–who’s a most unusual fellow, to say the least! Born in 1914, he trusted Christ as his Saviour at the age of 6, and became a preacher at the age of 9. By age 13 he was authorized to perform marriages, and when he was 15 he established a church. He was one of the founders of Youth for Christ. Mr. Lehman, had only a Grade 8 education, but he has been honoured with at least a couple of college degrees. If you happen to have access to Ken Osbeck’s book 101 More Hymn Stories, you’ll find a copy of the music there, and information about how the song came to be written.

      • Thanks for your help! I may be asking you about other hymns in the future. It’s great the know there’s such a helpful resource available.

  8. I am thankful to the Lord for your dedication to preserve the wonderful hymns of the faith. I am one of your admirers for the your work in this area. I am trying to learn as much as I can about hymn histories, composers and lyricists. Many of these hymns have been translated in the Romanian language and we are enjoying them even in our Romanian churches here in North America. Maybe you can help me identify one specific hymn book, or hymn collection, or collection of songs, of which some hymns have been translated into Romanian language sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s. All I have of the name of that particular collection are the initials: “F.o.W”. Any idea what they stand for?


    Peter Matcau

    • Wow! Not much to go on. Faith and Wordship? Fellowship and Worship? (Though what the “o” stands for, I don’t know.) And since I don’t know the language, even more difficult for me to track down. I did a number of searches, but came up empty. You might try contacting a Christian mission agency that works in Romania. Otherwise, I’m sorry but I can’t be of much help.

  9. My dear Robert,
    It is a pleasure that I stumbled on your site. I am also a hymn leader in my local church and I have been wondering about starting a radio programme on our local radio station on hymns, their histories and their authors . but the problem has been where do I find the information. I thank God you are able to help in this. Can I count on you for this?
    Ndi Nelson
    Redeemer Baptist Church

    • Thanks for your note. I wish you well with the radio program idea. I’ve hosted a couple of them over the years. As far as helping you, you’re welcome to make use of what I have on my blog–comments on over a thousand hymns. You also need to bookmark the Cyber Hymnal. The creator, Dick Adams has information there on more than 8,700 hymns.

      If you’re stuck on a particular song, I might be able to suggest a resource, but my plate is already full, otherwise. I recommend that you begin to gather some basic books on the subject. I’ve listed over sixty of them in my Bibliography. Some are no longer in print, but even in that case it’s possible to find used ones on the Net.

  10. I am writing a book about our time as Methodist missionaries in PNG in the early 1960s and would like to quote about four lines from a number of hymns in ‘The Methodist Hymn-Book for use in Australasia and New Zealand’, copyright Dec 1934. I wonder if you could tell me how I can go about getting permission to use these words, please? I do hope you can help.

    • H-m-m… Well, it can be complicated. If the hymns were published in 1922 or before, it’s quite possible they are in the public domain, and you don’t need permission to use them. Since the book you refer to was published in 1934, perhaps many of the songs are in the public domain.

      But early copyrights are sometimes renewed by the family or estate of a deceased hymn writer, so it pays to check. It’s possible, of course, to pay for permission to print copyrighted material, but that can get expensive. The easiest thing to do would be to simply avoid using songs that are not in the public domain. (I realize that may be painful, if it’s a song that was particularly relevant)

      For your interest, I see that the Celebration Hymnal lists the addresses of all the copyright owners for hymns printed in the book (pp. 833-834). If any of the songs you have in mind are included there, that might give you a place to start. Wish I could be more help.

  11. Thank you. I’m grateful for a suggestion of anywhere I can start.

  12. Receiving your email each day is a blessing. So many hymns I have forgotten over the years and then one comes up from your email and I feel so happy all over again. One particular was the March 11th hymn by Norman Clayton “Now I belong to Jesus” . I love that chorus and I first heard it a few years ago at the Ottawa Salvation Army Citadel. Major Kathryn Trim was the residing pastor(ess). Most of the churches in my area and about have discarded their hymn books. How sad! I have a few. Thank you again for bringing worship to our precious Lord through the wonderful testimonies penned in song, many so long ago.

    • Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. Yes, it is sad when a church no longer uses hymn books–or, at least, the songs that are in them.

      As to “if the Lord wills,” it is a biblical phrase (Jas. 4:15). But you sound an important word of warning: Let it not be simply a trite expression that we give no thought to. “Praise the Lord!” can be the same, or even a hearty “Amen!” in a church service. Both are appropriate, if they are meaningful to the context of the service, and are an expression of the heart. God bless.

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