Packing my Library

A lot of people enjoy good books, and I’m one of them.  As a boy I’d fall asleep listening to Denver sports, a Hardy Boys mystery in-hand.  Dad would check on me, mark my page, click the radio off and turn out my light when he went to bed.

Dad instilled in me a love of good books.  For him, studying for a sermon was like a big conversation with his hardbound friends covering his desktop and he’d bring the highlights into the pulpit on Sunday.  When I decided to go into ministry He recommended his favorite authors and made sure I had my own copy of some of his favorite volumes.

When Grandpa Ransom went Home to Glory in 1980  I came home with over 200 books that were in his library.   When Dad followed in 2002 I came home with I don’t know HOW many from his library .. definitely more than a couple hundred!  Dad had two libraries in a way, one of books he used, one of old books he found at library sales, antique stores and in second-hand shops.  Many of them are mine now, so it’s no wonder I’m being careful who gets to help me pack these best-friends and get them ready to move.

Tonight I came across one of the library-sale books Dad found several years ago.  It’s a collection of hymns and hymn stories that were classics back in 1931.  Which means a lot of them I don’t know.   I always read the lyrics of a song first, anyway, since it’s vital to a song’s ability to touch people’s hearts.  So I enjoyed paging through it for a while, reading lyrics and appreciating rhyme and rhythm.  I smiled when I saw the way the lyrics were printed to one hymn I know (see below).  This work has been around for centuries.  We’ve sung it every way imaginable, from a bunch of energetic kids singing it before dinner at Bible camp, to fully orchestrated and arranged works in large auditoriums and cathedrals, to solo-performances behind the steering wheel of a car as we thank God for something He just did.

I was especially intrigued with the suggested service order next to the hymn.  “That works!”  I smiled.  And the melody is in the Tenor line.   They actually harmonized in those days – something I’d like to help bring back if I can.

Here’s a scan of what I found.   Slow down to 1931,  or 1561 if you’re brave enough. Breathe a bit and imagine the setting as it might have been.   Perhaps God will encourage your heart and tired mind the way He did mine  this evening.



2 Replies to “Packing my Library”

  1. Phil

    Yeah, I liked it too – it’s very “participatory” isn’t it? It would help make the familiar fresh again. The above is from the book LYRIC RELIGION The Romance of Immortal Hymns by H Augustine Smith. © 1931 by the D Appleton-Century Company. It’s naturally out of print by now but you may be able to find a copy (mine’s not for sale) on

    Hymn stories help keep those classics alive and fresh. Kenneth Osbeck has written a couple hymn story collections and Cliff Barrows (the Billy Graham Association) compiled one. Sometimes the Minister’s Edition or Worship Leader Edition of hymnals will have special notations that help along those lines. It presents a pretty good reason to wander into an antique store, isn’t it? “Do you have any old hymnals?”

    Some of my best treasures, though, were personal gifts from elderly folks who sang from that particular hymnal back in the day, and are proud to pass it on to someone younger who wants to know — and cares. Someone who will value the worn volume their family sang from gathered around the upright piano all those years.


    By the way, there’s a book along similar lines you may enjoy: The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers. Fascinating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Article/Post Archive