William J. Petersen & Ardythe Petersen
Tyndale, 690 Pages, Paper, $19.99

It’s doubtful they’re exaggerating when the publisher says on the back cover that this work is “the largest collection of the stories behind the most popular hymns and praise songs!” It truly is a delightfully thorough book and, on top of that, few if any hymn histories available today contain praise songs as this volume does.

The stories are divided into 24 helpful sections, such as adoration and praise, atonement and the cross, Bible, Christmas, church and fellowship, God the Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus, missions and evangelism, patriotic, prayer and consecration, salvation, Thanksgiving, and trials and temptations. Each entry includes not only the story of the song but also Scripture references and the words to each of the stanzas. The writer’s name comes at the end, with his/her date of birth and death. At the end of the book are bibliography; index of hymn titles; index of authors, translators, arrangers, and sources; and index of themes.

Anyone wanting to be informed and blessed by hymns and their origins will love this book. It has been out since 2006 but was brought only recently to the attention of the reviewer.