Sunday, November 05, 2000

The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal

compiled by W. G. Polack

As a rule, trying to read a reference book is sheer foolishness. However fascinating the contents, you'll soon be lulled to distraction by an overload of facts and figures. However, it can be done if you take the book in small chunks and either have great discipline or a dearth of reading alternatives. I used the latter in my conquest of this tome, which is a companion to The Lutheran Hymnal, the hymn book published by my denomination in 1941. The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) was the hymn book that I grew up using, and even though they tried to replace it in the late 70's/early 80's, many churches in my denomination are still using it. Anyway, The Handbook is basically a bunch of liner notes on each hymn which can include the piece's history, it's original text (be it English or some other language), deleted verses and the like. There's also capsule biographies for each of of the authors, composers and translators (at least as much as is available for each), indexes and a brief introduction about the hymnal and the criteria used in its creation. I picked this one up at a used book sale and my wife immediately put it on our shelf. Of course, I could not in good conscience reccommend it to the general public, but it might make passable waiting room material to anyone interested in hymns, church history or general nostalgia.

LibraryThing link

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