The Stories of Hymns

The History Behind 100 of Christianity's Greatest Hymns

Hymns are more than beautiful musical compositions; they provide us with a heightened language for praising and speaking to God, all while teaching us theology that reflects both the depth and complexity of Our Lord.

Sacred hymns in our day have given way to “fifth-rate poetry set to fourth-rate music,” as C.S. Lewis once remarked. At times, the music used in worship can make us feel as though the culture is usurping the Church rather than being transfigured by it. There is a clear and present need to resurrect those distinctively different songs with a distinctively different vocabulary for people who want to live distinctive lives as followers of Christ.

In these pages, Fr. George William Rutler introduces and reflects upon dozens of the greatest hymns written from the earliest years of the Church through the Twentieth Century. The text and composition of each hymn is included, as well as inspiring accounts of their authors and composers, fascinating stories and historical events connected with them, and notes on the significant contributions each one made to theology and music.

Fr. Rutler has recovered here a rich musical legacy that will help us to give glory to our God who is Lord of all.


Father Rutler here considers nearly 100 hymns of fine artistic and theological quality, giving interesting information about the texts, the music, and the composers. With hymns assuming so large a role in today’s worship, Fr. Rutler proposes to enrich both the selection and the understanding of an ancient form that still has a great deal of life in it.

Msgr. Richard Schuler

Father Rutler’s ecumenical selection of hymns and his illuminating comments on the history of each are a great restorative to the liturgical devastation of the past decades. As usual, Father Rutler not only entertains, but instructs.

Robert Reilly Reilly

This is a classy book with the hymns and the marvelous scholarly annotations by the inimitable Father Rutler. Indispensable to every library.

William F. Buckley, Jr.






Dimensions N/A
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SKU Q80251
SKU Q80244


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The Stories of Hymns