(Editorial note: No, this is not the review of Doug Harrison’s upcoming and already controversial book by the same name. That review is scheduled for May 4th. Yes, there are two books on Christian music with the same title and published in the same twelve month period. Not only was Morgan’s first—it is the third book in a well-publicized series published by the largest Christian book publisher in the United States!)
Any number of authors have written books of hymn stories. Robert Morgan’s, though, have likely been the most successful. His 2003 and 2004 books Then Sings My Soul and Then Sings My Soul Book 2 each gave 150 hymn stories.
After a hiatus of nearly a decade, Morgan has returned with a third and final volume, completing the trilogy. It is arranged in a somewhat different format than its predecessors; while it gives fifty-six individual hymn stories (facing a hymnal-style score of the song), and revisits six others, it has a broader focus of offering a brief history of Christian hymnody. Opening chapters trace the story from the time of Christ through today. Southern Gospel is mentioned—in a brief, two-sentence paragraph citing James D. Vaughan and “I’ll Fly Away.” (This beats no mention!)
The fifty-six hymn stories follow the history; these stories are arranged in chronological order, from “Gloria Patri” (~100) to “In Christ Alone” (2001). Three Gaither songs make the list, with accompanying stories: “He Touched Me,” “The Longer I Serve Him,” and “Let’s Just Praise the Lord.” Eugene M. Bartlett’s “Victory in Jesus” also makes the list; the story discusses his mentoring of Albert E. Brumley.
The book has several quirks and oddities worth noting. Morgan gives the story behind Walter and Civilla Martin’s “The Blood Will Never Lose its Power,” taking care to note that it is not the Andraé Crouch song of the same name. Yet the accompanying score is of the Crouch song! Also, of interest to those who study New Testament Textual Criticism: He cites I Timothy 3:16 as the modern/critical text “He appeared in a body,” instead of the traditional text/Textus Receptus’s “God was manifest in the flesh.”
Though Then Sings My Soul contains little that would be new to long-time students of Christian music, it provides an excellent introduction to the field.
Review copy provided; a positive review was not required.