Deep Sorrow

Harper Kids Sturgis

The tagline for my blog is Solid joys, deep sorrows, aggressive hope. I’m in a period of Deep Sorrow.

Here is a photo of my brothers and sisters taken circa 1959. I’m the youngest on the left. We are seven. Last week my sister Margo (middle girl) died at the age of 67 from respiratory failure related to pneumonia. It’s remarkable that she was just three years shy of threescore years and ten.

In 1979 she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor (a glioblastoma). After chemotherapy, radiation, and a surplus of surgeries, her tumor was encapsulated. But the “cure” brought a lifetime of disability. Her life was difficult but her signature response was “Blessed.” She enjoyed describing herself as not in her right mind.

This is the first of several blog posts introducing you, dear reader, with my dear sister and my forum for processing my grief. I’ll write about how we “sang her to heaven” and how we honored her life.

These are my [edited] reflections which I read at her service.

My Sister Margo

There were just enough years and sufficient siblings between Margo and me that we seldom quibbled and rarely quarreled.

After I left Lombard, she was the Great Communicator. A punster, she loved clever quips and sent me many, many funny cards. Like all of my siblings, she devoured books and music; she insisted I read My Name Is Asher Lev, Lord Peter Wimsey, and a boatload of Brock and Bodie Thoene books. Ten years ago, she and her husband John made a dream come true, by taking me to see the great cellist YoYo Ma at Ravinia.

Our friendship was sustained by annual visits. When finances and young children constrained my travel, she ventured out to Oregon. One October she joined our family’s hunting camp and kept the fire burning. As a nurse, she was fascinated with gutting, skinning, and hanging a deer, disappointed that our guys came up empty.

In 1994 she brought John to meet us. Soon there was a wedding. She was 45. In recent years, I came to Chicago. The sweetest moments we shared were our evening meals. We lingered long after the last bite was chewed and reviewed memories. In the dimming light, she relived school stories, recounted old friendships, told of her travels and took comfort in the simple benediction of remembering.

We played Scrabble. If you know Harpers, you know we compete. Year after year I could not beat Margo at Scrabble. I certainly tried. In 2014 I eked out a one-point win. Oh yeah! I crowed and danced, hands above my head. She leveled her gaze at me and smirked, “You are celebrating beating someone with only half a brain?”

Her life was beset with brokenness and besieged with pain, a continuous series of losses. She lost her balance, her manual dexterity, her ability to walk, travel by plane, hearing in one ear, and eventually clear speech. She steadfastly refused to complain; instead, she reckoned herself blessed.

Margo thrived on belonging. She relished belonging to the wild roundup called the Harpers. She valued belonging to the Lombard Gospel Chapel family. Back in the day, she belonged to her people at Bair Lake Bible Camp, Emmaus Bible School, Pacific Garden Mission, Sunshine Gospel Mission, Belmont Hospital, Rest Haven Homes.  She belonged to John; johnandmargo became one word.

Margo belonged to Jesus. The Heidelberg Catechism begins: What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to my faithful savior Jesus Christ. He was her rock, her fortress and her might.

Finally, Margo was beloved. The response to news of her passing is a witness. As a young girl she was warmed and nurtured by her mom. In Margo’s last years of life, Mom’s love — Mom’s praise — was a diamond she pulled out of her pocket and prized. “Mom used to say, ‘You are such a help to me,’” Margaret remembered.

Our brother John was a faithful friend and support, especially the last dozen years of her life. He brought meals, helped her exercise, encouraged and cheered. His love was an important aspect of her life.

When she had long adjusted to life as a single woman, God brought John Walker to Margo. He loved her; her delight in him knew no bounds. Joy and laughter took up residence in her life. Look at the photos! Their marriage was the gospel made plain. He cared about her as he cared for her. His sacrifices shouted “My life for yours.”

Margo’s disability went from challenging to difficult to arduous. John’s love was a counterpoint to her struggles. The more dependent Margo became on John, the more evident was his love. Few wives are acquainted with the depth of love that Margo knew. Indeed, she was ‘blessed.’

Margo loved Narnia; she adored Lucy. Margo’s journey on earth is done. She can say,

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”

Our ‘Lucy’ — I think of her as Queen Margo the Valiant — has gone ‘further up and further in’. Her faith is sure, her hopes are fulfilled, her love remains.  Goodbye, Margo.

Chronological 2015 Reading List


It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. — C.S. Lewis

The rewards of deep reading (reading several books on the same subject or by the same author) are plentiful: synthesis, comprehension, analysis. Or just the possibility of remembering the main point. Reading widely pays well, too. The stab of joy, the searing beauty of synchronicity! When I read Book G and it revisits something I read in Book B with no obvious connection between the two? Oh, man. It gets my voice in the high treble range and sets my fingers aflutter.

I thought it would be fun to classify my reading list for 2015 chronologically by publication date. I like old books, yes. But I also have been guilty of reverse-snobbery, where I lift my nose a few centimeters and declare that I’m not all that interested in modern writing. Blech! (autocorrect wanted to change that to belch; that works, too!) As you can see, I’ve overcome that weakness, haha!

2011-2015 (30 books)

Reclaiming Conversation     Sherry Turkle
Come Rain or Come Shine     Jan Karon
Bread and Wine     Shauna Niequist
Earthen Vessels     Matthew Lee Anderson
Being Mortal     Atul Gawande
Fierce Convictions     Karen Swallow Prior
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust     Alan Bradley
Landfalls     Naomi Williams
The Wright Brothers     David McCullough
All the Light We Cannot See     Anthony Doerr
Gutenberg’s Apprentice   Alix Christie
Nigellissima     Nigella Lawson
Among the Janeites     Deborah Yaffe
Wheat Belly     William Davis
Every Good Endeavor     Timothy Keller
Coolidge    Amity Shlaes
The Book of Strange New Things     Michel Faber
The Green Ember     S.D. Smith
Food: A Love Story     Jim Gaffigan
Dad Is Fat     Jim Gaffigan
God Made All of Me    Justin Holcomb
No Higher Honour     Condoleezza Rice
The Forgotten Founding Father     Joshua Kendall
Delancey     Molly Wizenberg
Lit! The Christian Guide to Reading Books     Tony Reinke
The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse     Alan Bradley
The Every-Other-Day-Diet     Krista Varady
Tsura     Heather Anastasiu
House of Stone     Heather Anastasiu
One Good Dish     David Tanis

Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. — C.S. Lewis

2000-2010 (24 books)

In the Midst of Life     Jennifer Worth
The Midwife     Jennifer Worth
Waiting for Snow in Havana     Carlos Eire
The River of Doubt     Candice Millard
Mudhouse Sabbath     Lauren Winner
Complications     Atul Gawande
Unless It Moves the Human Heart     Roger Rosenblatt
The Importance of Being Seven     Alexander McCall Smith
The Best Day, The Worst Day     Donald Hall
A Personal Odyssey     Thomas Sowell
The Shoebox Bible     Alan Bradley
Sonata for Miriam     Linda Olsson
Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance     Atul Gawande
Shadows of the Workhouse     Jennifer Worth
Inkheart     Cornelia Funke
The Unbearable Lightness of Scones     Alexander McCall Smith
Old Filth     Jane Gardam
The Man in the Wooden Hat     Jane Gardam
How to Read Shakespeare     Nicholas Royle
In Thy Dark Streets Shineth       David McCullough
The House at Riverton     Kate Morton
Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs     Larry Smith
Widow of the South     Robert Hicks
A Separate Country     Robert Hicks

1990-1999 (7 books)

A Pianist’s Landscape     Carol Montparker
Down the Common     Ann Baer
Poems New and Collected     Wistawa Szymborska
Melodious Accord     Alice Parker
One Year Off     David Elliot Cohen
Girl in Hyacinth Blue     Susan Vreeland
Jeremy: The Tale of An Honest Bunny     Jan Karon

1980-1988 (2 books)

Godric     Frederick Buechner
To School Through the Fields     Alice Taylor

1970-1979  (1 book)

The Brendan Voyage    Tim Severin

1950-1969 (4 books)

A Grief Observed     C.S. Lewis
How Does a Poem Mean?     John Ciardi
On the Beach     Nevil Shute
The Schoolmasters     Leonard Everett Fisher

1900-1949 (7 books)

Orthodoxy     G.K. Chesterton
The Adventures of Sally     P.G. Wodehouse
Pied Piper   Nevil Shute
Anna and the King of Siam     Margaret Landon
I Capture the Castle     Dodie Smith
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres     Henry Adams
Jimmy at Gettysburg     Margaret Bigham Beitler

The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. — C.S. Lewis

1800-1899 (4 books)

Doctor Wortle’s School     Anthony Trollope
Sir Henry Hotspur     Anthony Trollope
Henry Heathcote of Gangoil     Anthony Trollope
Luck of the Roaring Camp     Bret Harte

1500-1599 (2 books)

Henry IV, Part I     William Shakespeare
Henry IV, Part 2     William Shakespeare

0- 500 AD (2 books)

On the Incarnation    Athanasius
Marcus Aurelius and his Times     Marcus Aurelius

Photograph is my granddaughter, reading Goodnight Moon to me.

Five Seven

img022Five Seven. An unforgettable date. We may not remember Three Twenty-Three (her birthday). I don’t even know her wedding date (the year was 1945). But this day, oh I know Five Seven. The calendar starts fomenting emotions around the third or fourth.

I revisit my last goodbye as I trotted towards the car, facing forward out the front door, head turned on the final step as I sing-songed my farewell: ♪♫♪ Bye Mom! ♪♫♪  I see my father waiting for me at the edge of the school grounds, and I hear the deadly quiet when we entered the house.

Last night when I read about Kara Tippett’s family’s first event without her I burst into sobs. Have you followed Kara’s story? Her shimmering grace, her honest struggle, her big love. I look at her kids and I know a small piece of their story. The oldest girl, who will mother her siblings the rest of her life. The girl and boy in the middle whose grief might get overlooked, who will consider their dad’s cares. The youngest girl, the focus of concern for all, the girl who turned six this week.

Although Five Seven can never be the second Sunday in May, it is always in the suburbs of Mother’s Day. Sorrow scoots over and makes room for gratitude. For too many, the grief of Mother’s Day is the ache of having had a mom who couldn’t or wouldn’t, but clearly didn’t express love and kindness. Their focus is on breaking the chain of affliction, expunging the critical words, watching others to figure out how to be a good mom.

I learned the goodness and kindness of God through Mom. Sure, she taught us and corrected us; but she sang while she laundered, she cheerfully plowed through sandwich-making every school day morning, she wrapped her long arms around us, she prayed. What didn’t she do? She never gossiped, she didn’t complain, she didn’t worry, she didn’t fear. Sometimes she sighed, and I know she groaned. But she lived a simple, authentic life, a small life really, that influenced many for good. And she loved me, this I know. To know your mom’s love is a gift of unfathomable magnitude.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

Nellie Arlene Stover Harper
3/23/1920 — 5/7/1968

Figaro, John and Abigail

marriage-of-figaro-program Mental Multivitamin calls it synthesis / serendipity / synchronicity. It’s that glorious connection between what you just read/saw/heard and—in an unexpected way—what you are currently reading/seeing/hearing.

The practice of reading (deep and wide) is in effect laying down a swath of Velcro loops. And along comes something that enhances, expands, expatiates on what you already know: those are the Velcro hooks.

That aha! moment brings me great joy. My husband wishes he had written down every hunting experience he’s had since he was seven…for the pleasure of reliving them. I wish I had noted each experience of synthesis / serendipity / synchronicity in my reading life; for there have been many and, alas, my mind grows dim.

::today’s synthesis::

For a year I have been plowing through Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present. It is demanding and daunting. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have had the fortitude and background knowledge to pull through. But it is rewarding in the same way that losing thirty pounds is rewarding.

Barzun writes several pages about Beaumarchais, the author of The Marriage of Figaro, artisan, wit, pamphleteer, and secret agent. Have you heard of him? Me, neither. Barzun calls him “the most effective helper of the [American] colonists in their war.” Do you find that an arresting description?

Mozart wrote an opera based on Beaumarchais’ story which challenged the French aristocracy, making Figaro, a valet (or barber), more noble than his master.

:: Pause, Barzun. ::

When I’ve been home alone this week, I have listened to Joseph J. Ellis’ history, First Family: Abigail and John Adams. After a five year separation, Abigail and her daughter Nabby joined John and John Quincy in Paris. The Adams family “attended an early performance of The Marriage of Figaro.”  Hello! I just read about significance of Figaro!! I reveled in the realization that for a time John and Abigail Adams and Mozart were both living and breathing in relative proximity.

::Pause, Abigail and John::

Three weeks ago I visited my friend Lisa in North Carolina. She had been culling books from her shelves and gave me a quaint 1913 book called Opera Synopses. In it I found more information on The Marriage of Figaro ; I learned the story is a direct continuation of Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville (created by Beaumarchais).

::return to Barzun::

Fascinating! I went back to Barzun’s tome and there it all was: “the man who wrote The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro before the librettists of Rossini and Mozart gave the two plays another meaning for the musical state.”

I had previously read that sentence, but because I didn’t have any Velcro loops of interest or connection, that fact just bounced off my brain. The synthesis, the recognition, made those words adhere.

So what? Although I am familiar with the overture and several arias, I have never seen the opera. I started to watch it on YouTube this morning, while I wrapped Christmas presents, but quickly realized that three hours of opera wasn’t on the agenda today. And if I’m going to be thorough (cough, cough) I should start by watching The Barber of Seville first.

So little time…

Reading Year in Review


2012 was the year I rediscovered inter-library loans. I whittled books off my Wish List at Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap., thanks to Oregon libraries.  I also read more Kindle books this year than ever before. My bookshelves are patiently waiting for me to notice them. The lists are in order of my favorites. The ones I especially liked have an asterisk in front of them. You are welcome to ask questions or make comments or suggest titles for 2013.

Happy reading!



* Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas (2011)

Children’s Books

* Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, Sally Lloyd-Jones, (2012)
Two are Better Than One, Carol Ryrie Brink (1968)
The Giraffe That Walked to Paris, Nancy Milton (1992)
Baby Island, Carol Ryrie Brink (1937)
Trudel’s Siege, Louisa May Alcott (1848)
Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl (1970)


Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1938)
Prayers: A Personal Selection, Michael York and Michael Hoppe (2010)


* Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1862)
Jill the Reckless, P.G. Wodehouse (1920)
An Eye For An Eye, Anthony Trollope (1878)
Piccadilly Jim, P.G. Wodehouse (1917)
A Room with a View, E.M. Forster (1908)

Cultural Studies

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (2008)
Alone Together, Sherry Turkle (2011)
Distracted, Maggie Jackson (2008)
Blink, Malcolm Gladwell (2005)
What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell (2010)
The Secret Knowledge, David Mamet (2011)


* To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis (1997)


* City of Tranquil Light, Bo Caldwell (2010)
Olivia in India, O. Douglas (1912)
Buffalo Coat Buffalo Coat, Carol Ryrie Brink (1944)
The Distant Land of My Father, Bo Caldwell (2002)
A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote (1956)
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons (1932)
Chasing Mona Lisa, Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey (2012)
Strangers in the Forest, Carol Ryrie Brink (1959)
Arrow of God, Chinua Achebe (1964)
The House at Tyneford, Natasha Solomons (2011)
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Walter Mosley (2010)


For All the Tea in China, Sara Rose (2010)
Practicing History, Barbara Tuchman (1982)


* Surprised by Oxford, Carolyn Weber (2011)
* A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg (2009)
* My Reading Life, Pat Conroy (2010)
The Invisible Child, Katherine Paterson (2001)
My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell (1956)
How Parking Enforcement Stole My Soul, Ben Friedrich (2012)
The Heart of a Soldier, Capt. Kate Blaise w/ Dana White (2005)
A Chain of Hands, Carol Ryrie Brink (1981)


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley (2009)
Shoofly Pie, Tim Downs (2003)
A Red Herring Without Mustard, Alan Bradley (2011)

Non Fiction

Simplify, Joshua Becker (2010)
The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller (2009)


Kitchen Sonnets, Ethel Romig Fuller (1931)
Skylines, Ethel Romig Fuller (1952)


* China Road, Rob Gifford (2007)
American Places, Wallace and Page Stegner (1993)
The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, Farley Mowatt (1969)

Terryisms – A Tribute to My Pastor

When there is trouble, he enters into the situation, ready to help.
When there’s a party, a ring of laughter surrounds him.
When there is failure, he brings clarity and hope.

He preaches with passion.
He lives to tell stories.
He sings from his toes.

He used to be a long-haired surfer dude,
the delinquent son of the math teacher,
a doubtful outcome.

Then God snatched him from the waves,
set him on dry ground,
and redirected his life.

He teaches Logic and other subjects,
but mainly he is a docent of humanity,
explaining how life works.

It’s funny: his recap of a movie
is invariably better
than the movie itself.

If Pastor Terry and Yente the Matchmaker
lived in the same town,
Yente would go out of business.

His kids talk to him. Often.
He finds any excuse to visit them,
constructs play kitchens for his granddaughters.

He can read Greek and Hebrew;
but he’s even better at reading people.
Approachable. Winsome. Accessible.

He pastors pastors,
near and far,
giving a lift with encouraging words.

We know other churches would love to have him.
But right now—and for the last two decades—he belongs to us.
The Shire is his home.



He likes to talk. He’s very good at it.
Sometimes the stuff comes out funny.
Sometimes it comes out clear.
Sometimes it comes like a freight train.
But it is always good.


•Show up to life everyday!

• Get off your attitude.

• Life is so daily.

• God hit me like a plunger between the eyes.

• Does the glove get muddy or the mud get glovey?

• Raising children is like pouring concrete: you only get one shot.

• You never know what can happen in a day.

• Don’t be old and alone.

• A litnis test

• Our goal is generational fruit:
to see our children’s children walking with the Lord.

• Never despise the day of small beginnings.

•We know there is a balance somewhere…
we see it every time we pass by,
swinging from one extreme to the other.

• Idle hands are the devil of a workshop.

• Repent as loudly as you sin.

• Take off the uniform and stop playing church.

• God isn’t up in heaven, wringing His hands,
wondering what to do next.

• Grab him by his circumcision. [He meant to say baptism.]

• Is your marriage dead?
God does dead.
He loves resurrections.

• When God redeemed me, He was pursuing you. [said to his children]



 • Unity, order, progress.

• If you really love her, you wouldn’t marry her!
[tongue in cheek advice in courtship]

• God’s story includes you.

• If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.

• Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

•When someone criticizes you and calls you a blockhead,
respond with “You don’t even know the half of it!”

 Thank you, Pastor Terry, for your work and your words on our behalf.


55 Hymns I Love to Sing



The other reason that I make music is to celebrate the
certainty of the Lord, since there is no other way I can
understand the contradictions and confusions that surround me.
— Anthony Trollope


I was raised on hymns. They were my mother’s milk, my first solids, my daily bread, my cup of tea. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing hymns, nor a time that I haven’t loved hymns. I sing hymns that sweep my soul up and bring me to the gates of heaven. I sing hymns that mourn, a haunting melody in a minor key that alone reaches the nooks and crannies of my grief.  Hymns, well-done, show me how great my God is and how much that affects my life.  They remind me of what is true, they teach me how to respond, they encourage me to change.

I’ve worshiped with Plymouth Brethren, Baptist, Evangelical Free, and Presbyterian churches. In other words, I come from a broad range of hymnody: English melodies, Fanny Crosby, revival hymns, plainsong, German chorales, psalms from the psalter, Welsh hymns, folksongs, Vaughn Williams, Luther, and one of my favorites: Claude Goudimel.   

Just as in books, there are good ones and there are raspy ones. I when hear certain hymns I think: All Skate!  Other have a sing-song rhyming scheme that sounds like a seventh grader wrote it. True, some tunes are dated and just bad. There are bouquets of flowery, sentimental sap that may not even be orthodox in their theology.

Hymn geeks know that each tune has a name. The name of the tune may come from the city where it was composed, the first words of the hymn—often in their original language—or some phrase that identifies it. Or in the case of one favorite, the tune is SINE NOMINE, meaning without a name. I included the tunes because two people out there will care to know to which tune I sing that particular hymn.


1.  Doxology OLD HUNDRETH   This should be the first praise song every toddler learns. And perhaps the last song with the last breath of life.  Our church sings this, a capella, at the end of every service.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

2.  Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing NETTLETON   

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.

3.  My Soul, Now Bless Thy Maker (Psalm 103) NUN LOB, MEIN SEEL   The truth is that many of my favorite hymns are based on Psalm 103.  Unfortunately this one is obscure.  How do I translate to you the joy and thrill it is to sing this?  Almost every audio version I’ve found has a slow, dreary tempo when this is a vigorous and confident tune.  So here’s the best combo I can find: Listen to this version (click on 519) after you’ve opened a window with the words.

My soul, now bless thy Maker! Let all within me bless His name
Who maketh the partaker of mercies more than thou dar’st claim.

4.  Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns TRURO   I love TRURO like my friend Steph loves HYFRYDOL. We are kindred spirits in our hymn geekdom.  Listen here.

Shout, for the blessed Jesus reigns; through distand lands his triumphs spread;
And sinners freed from endless pains, own him their Saviour and their Head.

5.  Only Begotten, Word of God Eternal  ISTE CONFESSOR   There is gravitas in this ninth century hymn.  Tune is here; words are here (pause the music that automatically starts).

Here in our sickness, healing grace aboundeth,
Light in our blindness, in our toil refreshment:
Sin is forgiven, hope o’er fear prevaileth,
Joy over sorrow.

6.  Jesus Shall Reign  DUKE STREET   Besides loving ancient hymns in minor keys I love triumphal anthems.  Tune here and words here.  I love to modulate up a half key with each new verse.

People and realms of every tongue dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim their early blessings on His Name.

7.  O Sing A New Song to the Lord (Psalm 98)  LYNGHAM   To hear a large group singing this four-part fugue is glorious.

O sing a new song to the Lord, for wonders He has done.
His right hand and His holy arm the victory have won.

8.  O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus EBENEZER  The music matches the words in this piece better than any other hymn I can think of.  I hear the ocean currents. 

Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward, to thy glorious rest above.

9.  Praise To the Lord, the Almighty LOBE DEN HERREN If you don’t know this hymn, please learn it.  Every phrase is rich, solid, steady. 

How oft in grief hath not he brought thee relief,
Spreading his wings to o’ershade thee!


10. For All the Saints SINE NOMINE  Alleluia!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine.

And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong


11.  In Christ Alone  Music and lyrics here.  What is it about this modern day hymn that is so potent?  The words speak to the core issues of life and death.  The soaring intervals. 

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.


12.  Great Is Thy Faithfulness FAITHFULNESS   No other song evokes memories of mom like this one.

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


13.  Holy, Holy, Holy NICAEA 

Though the darkness hide thee, though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
Only thou art holy: there is none beside thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

14.  Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness GERMANY  

Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

15.  Come, Ye Disconsolate  CONSOLATION

Here bring your wounded heart, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

16.  Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms

17.  Trust and Obey   One of the first hymns I sang as a girl.

For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus

18.  O Come, All Ye Faithful ADESTE FIDELIS  After I learned about Athanasius, I lift up thanks for him when I sing this carol. Why? Because much of the doctrine in it was defended by him.

Word of the Father now in flesh appearing

19.  All Glory, Laud, and Honor  ST. THEODULPH  Bach wrote a great harmonization on this tune.

Thou didst accept their praises, accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest, Thou good and gracious king!

20.  We Are God’s People  This is one of our church’s favorite anthems.

He wills us be a family, diverse yet truly one,
O let us give our gifts to God, and so shall his work on earth be done.

21.  Like a River Glorious WYE VALLEY

We may trust Him fully all for us to do,
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

22.  Why Do the Heathen Nations Vainly Rage? POURQUOI FONT BRUIT

How blessed are those who trust without dissembling,
Who kiss the Son and bow in reverent fear.

23.  O for a Thousand Tongues  AZMON   There are 19 (!)  stanzas in the original lyrics.  We have great fun singing it to this tune, like a fugue.  Click on the link. Do it!

Assist me to proclaim to all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.


24.  All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name  DIADEM, CORONATION, MILES’ LANE  Diadem is my favorite setting of this anthem.

And crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
And crown Him Lord of all!

25.  The Lord Bless You and Keep You LUTKIN  A fitting benediction.

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord life his countenance upong you,
And give you peace.

26.  God Himself Is with Us ARNSBERG  Simple, solemn beauty.

Like the holy angels who behold Thy glory,
May I ceaselessly adore Thee.

27.  All Creatures of Our God and King  LASST UNS ERFREUEN  Mr. Bean almost ruined this for me.

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care.

28.  Jesus, Lover of My Soul  ABERYSTWYTH  Another minor key masterpiece!

All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

29.  Infant Holy, Infant Lowly    This Polish Christmas carol is a simple lullaby packed with truth.

Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
Praises voicing, greet the morrow,
Christ the Babe was born for you!

30.  Now Thank We All Our God NUN DANKET   Not just for Thanksgiving, this one is always relevant.

Who, from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

31.  O God Beyond All Praising  THAXTED 

And whether our tomorrows be filled with good and ill,
We’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still.

32.  O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!  DEO GRACIAS  THis one is dense and thick and chewy.

That God, the Son of God, should take
Our mortal form for mortals’ sake!

33.  What Wondrous Love Is This?

And when from death I’m free,
I’ll sing and joyful be,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.

34.  Amazing Grace  NEW BRITAIN  How did I forget about this before?

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

35.  God Be in My Head 

God be in my head, and in my understanding.
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking.
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking.
God be in my heart, and in my thinking.
God be at my end, and in my departing.



36.   St. Patrick’s Breastplate ST. PATRICK

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

37.  Awake, My Soul, in Joyful Lays LOVING KINDNESS

When trouble, like a gloomy cloud, has gathered thick and thundered loud,
He near my soul has always stood, His loving kindness, oh, how good!

38.  The Church’s One Foundation AURELIA

Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.

39.  Rejoice, the Lord Is King DARWALL

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

40.  When All Thy Mercies ST. PETER    Fernando Ortega sings this well.

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love, and praise.

41.  The God of Abraham Praise  LEONI  I love this Jewish melody.

I shall behold His face, I shall His power adore,
And sing the wonders of His grace forevermore.

42.  Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!  HYFRYDOL

Jesus! what a strength in weakness! Let me hide myself in Him;
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing, He, my strength, my victory wins.

43.  How Sweet and Awful Is the Place  ST. COLUMBA  This lilting Irish melody is quietly powerful.

‘Twas the same love that spread the feast that sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste, and perished in our sin.

44.  O Lord, My God, Most Earnestly  THIRD MODE MELODY  If you’ve seen Master and Commander, you’ve heard this haunting tune.

Beneath the shadow of Your wings I sing my joy and praise.
Your right hand is my strong support through troubled nights and days.

45.  Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence  PICARDY  This French Carol has very little ornamentation. It is solemn, simple, and powerful.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,  our full homage to demand.

46.  Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed? MARTYRDOM  One of the foundations of my youth.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do.


47.  And Can It Be  SAGINA 

Amazing love!
How can it be that Thou, my Lord,
shouldst die for me?

48.  Children of the Heavenly Father  One of my brother’s signature songs.

Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth, and their sorrows all He knoweth.

49.  Fairest Lord Jesus  CRUSADER’S HYMN 

Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration
Now and forevermore be Thine.

50.  Gloria Patri

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, Amen.

51.  Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee  HYMN TO JOY

Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

52.  My Jesus, I Love Thee  GORDON

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath.

53.  I Will Sing of My Redeemer 

How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.

54.  Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted  O MEIN JESU, ICH MUSS STERBEN  Wow. This hymn. Oh, my.

Ye who think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed, see who bears the awful load;
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.

55.  Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Today  EASTER HYMN  Belt this one out at the top of your lungs!

Lives again our glorious King; Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died, our souls to save; Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

What are a few of your favorites?


Okay, I’ve already realized a few glaring omissions. Humor me?

♥ To God Be the Glory (we sang this at our wedding)
♥ Blessed Assurance
♥ Before Thee Let My Cry Come Near (Psalm 119 X)

thank you!