Do you enjoy beautiful scenery and beautiful music? Abide with Me: A Photographic Journey Through Great British Hymns is a gorgeous hardcover book that vividly portrays the inspiration and history behind 25 of the most beloved hymns of all time. This high quality coffee-table book would be a wonderful gift for a Christian friend or family member – especially one who likes music, history, photography, or the British Isles! The spectacular full-color photos will bring out the armchair traveler in everyone. This book is very interesting, educational, and inspiring!
Abide with Me brilliantly presents the background stories of selected classic British hymns that have inspired and comforted worshippers for over three hundred years. The 25 hymns featured in this book include “Abide with Me,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” “Onward Christian Soldiers,” “Just As I Am,” “Holy Holy Holy,” “Doxology,” “O Perfect Love,” “O Happy Day,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Amazing Grace.” There are even a couple of Christmas carols thrown in: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.”
The lives and times of twenty hymnists – including John Newton, Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, Henry Lyte, and Sarah Flowers Adams – are described by American literary scholar John Parker. Perfectly complementing the text are magnificent photographs by internationally-acclaimed Irish photographer Paul Seawright showcasing the homes, churches, and breathtaking landscapes of God’s creation that these faithful men and women must have gazed upon while writing their uplifting verse.
Readers of Abide with Me will learn some fascinating little-known facts about the history of these memorable hymns. For example, did you know that many hymn writers were preachers who often wrote these hymns to coincide with their next sermon? Can you guess which hymn was written for a sister’s wedding that was going to be starting in 30 minutes? And did you know that “Onward Christian Soldiers” was written to help children keep up the pace as they marched behind their pastor one Sunday?
This is one book that you can not only read and look at, but also listen to! A free CD is included, with 24 hymns performed by Ray Walker of the Jordanaires and other artists. As you read the text and admire the photographs, take note that “efforts were made to emulate, as close as possible, how you would have heard the songs sung had you been there when they were first written and performed in the local church building, cathedral, or auditorium.” The music combined with the imagery really take you back in time and make you feel like you’re there.
From the Epilogue:
“Our journey through the great British hymns has taken us to widely different places: from the hectic streets of London to the somber quiet of a rural Wainsgate cemetery; from the serene hills of the Cotswolds to the lush mountains of Wales; from sunny Southampton to wind-beaten Whitby off the North Sea. And in these places we have met very different people: from sophisticated essayist Joseph Addison to simple lay preacher Edward Mote; from wealthy Sabine Baring-Gould to humbly endowed John Fawcett; from Anglican theologian John Keble to scholarly Dissenter Philip Doddridge; from stirring Charles Wesley to quite Charlotte Elliott; from strong and rough seaman John Newton to refined Frances Ridley Havergal. They lived different lives in different centuries, and they experienced different fortunes in their long or short times on earth. But they all shared a belief in Christ, and they all were blessed with a gift: the power to express His grace and love in words so well crafted and so harmoniously joined that they pierce our hearts, stir our souls, and linger long in our memories.”
The photographer, Paul Seawright, is Chair of Photography at the University of Ulster in Belfast. His photographs have been exhibited worldwide and are held in many museum collections. He has a Ph.D. in Photography from the University of Wales and was awarded a personal chair in 2002. He is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
The author, John Parker, is a Professor of English at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has taught Shakespeare and other literary classes there for twenty-eight years. Parker holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee, as well as a Master of Arts in Religion from Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee.
Hardback, 112 pages, from New Leaf Press. Click here to buy Abide with Me at Amazon.com.