Book Review: When Morning Gilds The Skies

When Morning Gilds The Skies:  Hymns Of Heaven And Our Eternal Hope, by Joni Eareckson Tada, John MacArthur, and Robert & Bobbie Wolgemuth

It should be noted that, for the purposes of completeness, this fourth volume of a series [1] should also include as a co-author Paul T. Plew, who writes a couple of the sections in the book, although nothing in the book gives more detail about him or his background, given that he is not as familiar as a writer as his co-authors [2].  That this volume is the fourth volume of a series encourages the reader to ponder the nature of scope creep, something that writers and engineers are especially prone to engage in.  After two of the co-authors of the book did a hymn duet on a lark, they thought it would be worthwhile to expand that impromptu duet into something more substantial, which led them eventually to cut four albums of roughly twelve songs apiece and write four books alongside those albums which feature personal reflections and solid music history.  The result is likely far more expansive than any of the people involved had originally thought, but that is how things work when one is worth creative people who simply do not know the size and scope of their ambitions until they give those ambitions the space to grow to their fullest extent.  As a person of like temperament, I can hardly criticize them for this.

The contents of this boom, at 135 pages, are scarcely longer than the first volume in the series, making this a short book that should not prove too difficult for anyone who likes its content.  Most of the songs discussed here were entirely unfamiliar to me.  Like its preceding volume, the authors discuss a dozen songs and their personal reflections on those songs as well as the backgrounds of the hymnwriters themselves in the same three section names as before:  At The Heart Of The Hymn, In The Light Of The Word, and From Out Of The Past.  Those who appreciate the form of previous volumes in the series will likely be comforted by the book’s consistency in format and structure.  After a short introduction and foreword, the authors discuss the following twelve songs:  Lead On, O King Eternal, My Jesus, I Love Thee, How Firm A Foundation, Amazing Grace, When Morning Gilds The Skies, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, More Love To Thee, O Christ, All The Way My Savior Leads Me, Holy, Holy, Holy!  When He Cometh, When He Cometh, and He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought!.  As before, after the hymns are discussed the sheet music is shown so that those readers who are literate in reading can sing along with the hymns themselves.

As was the case with the previous book, this book blends interesting biography with sentimental personal reflections and sometimes unsound doctrinal statements.  For example, it is immensely inspirational that noted hymnwriter Fanny Crosby was such a prolific writer that she used 200 pseudonyms so as not to tire people of seeing her name so often, a problem more than one writer can probably identify with.  The volume gets on bad theological ground when one of the co-authors claims that a song about the unbiblical Trinity is the deepest liturgical hymn of all time, which only demonstrates that Hellenistic Christianity considers some things more important than the Bible, namely their own heathen traditions.  That said, those problems only mar some of its material, leaving most of it worthwhile for readers regardless of their own denominational background, which is fortunate because there is a lot of material here that is worth reflecting on, even if some is worth rejecting as well.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/21/book-review-o-worship-the-king

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/21/book-review-can-god-bless-america/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/11/14/book-review-parables/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/20/book-review-a-spectacle-of-glory

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, History, Music History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book Review: When Morning Gilds The Skies

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Twelve Extraordinary Women | Edge Induced Cohesion

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