Robert J. Morgan serves families and ministries well by a concise and broad-ranging history of 150 hymns particular to Easter, Christmas, and year-round favorites. This is a special edition that focuses on the holidays. Morgan also offers Then Sings My Soul, Volume 1 and Volume 2. For a complete listing of his books you can go to his Amazon page. The hymns are categorized by topic: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Patriotic, and Other Favorites.

The format is easy to follow and will prove a helpful supplement to family worship or Sunday School classrooms. I would recommend you invest in a few copies for Sunday Schools or small group settings. If you meet weekly you have enough devotional material for three years! The full hymn is given on the left page with the right page giving the year and history of the hymn. The hymns are in the given style (using “Thee” and “Thou”)–which I personally like. Many times when language is updated the resonance with the congregation is lost or the substituted words do not capture the majesty communicated in the King’s English. {This is not to say, of course, that no updates to the language are helpful. I personally think “ox and lamb” is preferable to “ox and ass” since the latter can distract from engaging with the words.}

Further, by way of devotional use, each explanation given has a verse or two that is pertinent to the song. For those lacking direction and material to for devotions, this would be a good appetite whetter.

The true test came for me when I turned to “O Holy Night” (my favorite). I was helped by the history given for this hymn as it put humanity to the hymn. That is, it encouraged me that a hymn that has touched my devotional life so much was penned/translated by imperfect folk who I would probably disagree with on several theological issues (the translator, John Dwight, was a Unitarian). If you are looking for commentary on the actual hymn, you will not find that. The historical section is on the history of the author or transmission. This history, however, does serve to better understand authorial intent in the words of the hymns themselves.

I would commend this book for a cursory historical treatment of each of these hymns. Especially as the Christmas season is in full sway…and Easter is right around the corner.

{This review was done for BookSneeze}
I review for BookSneeze