Those of you familiar with this blog know that it offers reflections and insights into sacred music and Christian hymns. This week I would like to share with you a new book that does the same.
The author is Timothy Shoup, a parish pastor from Bonduel, Wisconsin and a former classmate of mine. With his book Praise and Honor: Hymn-Inspired Devotions he provides deep insights into fourteen hymns, both old and new, that cover the most important aspects of the Christian faith. All but one come from the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) published in 2006 by Concordia Publishing House. The other was written by the Rev. Stephen Starke for the 150th Anniversary of Rev. Shoup’s church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Bonduel, Wisconsin. Some of the hymns may be familiar to you while others may not. All of them, however, are worthy of consideration and study, especially for the insight that Rev. Shoup brings to them.
The fourteen topics and their corresponding hymns are as follows:
- Baptism – “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” (LSB 594)
- Confirmation – “Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus” (LSB 685)
- Resisting Temptation – “Jesus Has Come and Brings Pleasure Eternal” (LSB 533)
- Marriage – “Gracious Savior Grant Your Blessing” (LSB 860)
- Confessing Sin – “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” (LSB 761)
- The Lord’s Supper – “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (LSB 621)
- Prayer – “O Christ, Who Shared Our Mortal Life” (LSB 552)
- Advent Hope – “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (LSB 357)
- Christmas Peace – “Where Shepherds Lately Knelt” (LSB 369)
- An Influential Person – “Give Ear, O Zion, to God’s Call”
- Good Friday – “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” (LSB 451)
- Easter Triumph – “If Christ Had Not Been Raised From Death” (LSB 486)
- Comfort – “The Lord’s My Shepherd” I’ll Not Want” (LSB 710)
- Daily Praise – “We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God” (LSB 941)
For each hymn Rev. Shoup provides the full text, a summary, and then a deeper study of each verse focusing on a key phrase in that verse. Since the book is divided into sections that way, it can be used as a daily devotional book. This certainly is a good idea considering how much there is to digest in each hymn.
Rev. Shoup’s discussions are replete with Bible verses that show how the theology of the hymns are deeply rooted in Scripture. In the Kindle edition, the Bible verses are hyperlinks that connect to www.biblegateway.com. If you are reading the book on Kindle and are connected to the internet, by clicking on a Bible verse link the Bible verse immediately comes up. That saves a lot of time.
I would personally like to thank Rev. Shoup for this book. With it he makes a great contribution to our appreciation and understanding of some great hymns. He also provides a deep and profound summary of the Lutheran faith that is worthy of regular and continual study.
One interesting postscript to this story is that my great-great uncle, the Rev. Peter Dicke (1822-1911), helped found the church that Rev. Shoup serves. Rev. Dicke was born in Germany, studied theology in Nürnberg and Dresden, had some connections with the mission organization in Neuendettelsau established by Rev. Wilhelm Loehe (1808-72), and then traveled to the United States to complete his pastoral education at what is now Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After graduating, he spent his career as a pastor and pioneer missionary serving and founding churches in Michigan and Wisconsin. And this was in the horse and buggy days. For his personal history, click here. Interestingly, Rev. Shoup’s meditation on the hymn “Give Ear, O Zion, to God’s Call” includes references to Rev. Dicke and his role in founding their church. Pretty cool!
God bless you, Rev. Shoup, and all the members of your church! They are blessed to have you as their pastor. And thank you again for this wonderful book.