Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Family Christian: Matt Redman Unbroken Praise CD (review and giveaway)

I’m always on the look out for new albums to listen to in the car while we’re doing our many driving errands during the day, so when I had the chance to receive Matt Redman’s CD, Unbroken Praise, I knew I had to jump on it. Unbroken Praise has 11 tracks on it and you can listen to samples of them by following the link above to the Family Christian product page. While I enjoy all the songs on the album I have to say, “It Is Well With My Soul”, is probably my favorite. All the tracks are recorded live, so I know that may not appeal to everyone, however the sound quality is great and the applause of the audience is usually at the beginning and the end, not in the middle as I’ve heard some live tracks do.

Also normally, when I’m driving I like fast, upbeat music, however I also like being able to just get in the moment and get my praise on – even if that means stares from other drivers, or my children. It’s not so slow that I’ll go to sleep but not so fast that you feel like your at a rock concert – there is a time for each style. You’ll find the following tracks on the album:

  1. Louder
  2. It Is Well With My Soul
  3. Flames
  4. Unbroken Praise
  5. Abide With Me
  6. King Of My Soul
  7. Songs In The Night
  8. No One Like Our God
  9. The Awesome God You Are
  10. No Longer I
  11. Majesty Of The Most High

Whether you just want to get your praise on in the car or in the house this is a great CD to do that, Matt Redman has a wonderful voice and the music is one that you can sing along to, even if you think you can’t sing, the Lord loves a joyful noise! I know this album will be in my music rotation in my car for a long, long time especially with a long drive coming up to visit some friends, I’ll be able to sing along without getting put to sleep and also give the Lord praises for our safe traveling mercies. Truly, this is a wonderful CD and I do encourage those who like Matt Redman or just want a contemporary twist on some old favorites to get their own copy.


Contest is open to U.S. Residents ages 18 and older, void where prohibited. Winner must respond to the email I sent within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected. Winner will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter. Easiest way will be to right click and open in a new tab. Ends 9/3/15

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Family Christian: Amy Grant’s newest CD: Be Still and Know (review and giveaway)

I grew up listening to Amy Grant – I even got a couple of her cassettes for one of my birthdays, back when I was given a HUGE boom box. I made complete dances (**GASP** – yes I was a church going, dancing child) to her music in my family’s driveway in the summer and in my room during inclement weather.

I still enjoy those songs like El Shaddai, which Amy Grant has re-made and it’s still as beautiful, even if I’m partial to the one I grew up listening to in the late 80’s, early 90’s. The new album Be Still and Know; Hymns and Faith is a great addition to my CD collection as I drive my children from place to place – every day.

I can still hear the songs, Every Heartbeat and Baby Baby playing over the loud speakers at summer camp for our Church of God district. No dancing though. I’m a hymn person at heart and while I like CCM I knew I needed Amy’s newest CD because it had several of my favorite hymns on it such as:

  • Power in the Blood
  • Rock of Ages
  • What a Friend We have in Jesus/Old Rugged Cross/How Great Thou Art
  • Softly and Tenderly

and these are just a few of what is on this CD of 15 tracks, she also has some guest vocalists like Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow and Eric Paslay.

I feel like I’m passing on the touch, my children can enjoy the music that is faith filled through a woman I used to listen to when I was young. It feels good to know that there are songs that stand the test of time and instill faith in our life as we go about our daily lives. The music is relaxing, but no so relaxing that you can’t listen while driving and while it’s upbeat, it’s not so upbeat that you can’t listen at night in bed to unwind. I will enjoy the music on the CD for years to come and while maybe not choreographing dances anymore – definitely singing along!

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws


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FlyBy Promotions: Manic Drive VIP CD (and giveaway)

About the Album/Group:

Manic Drive has been widely known as a Canadian band who always delivers a great show, but over the past few years and project releases, they have added to their extensive touring of Canadian and US markets multiple Billboard Top 10 & 20 singles on CHR & Christian Rock Radio. Manic Drive is clearly very intentional about reaching their generation and inspiring them to pursue a deeper walk with Christ and to get involved in changing the world they are inheriting. And they are uniquely equipped to do so. The band members, all in their early-mid twenties, have made sacrifices to pursue God’s call on their lives. Their life experience, spiritual maturity and ministry have opened doors to speak into the lives of their own generation and that is perhaps the most defining characteristic of this group of guys.


My Opinion:

I’ve never heard of Manic Drive until I was contacted to review their newest CD titled VIP – and so I was bit cautious at first as I must admit that I’m very picky about how the music sounds as well as the voices that sing the lyrics.  At first glance Manic Drive looks quite the boy band – with the hair and hip clothing, a little reminiscent of my time as a fan of another boy band from the late 80’s early 90’s (we won’t mention the band here, but they weren’t Christian).  However, as on who does enjoy listening to a variety of music styles from classical to country to even Irish I must admit to find myself signing along after one listening and wanting to get up and praise and worship the Lord (although it’s quite hard to do when driving a car).  My husband though didn’t care for it, he did think almost all the songs sounded to teeny-bopper like and so he quit listening, my children seemed to enjoy it – not every song but most and some were great for dancing to.


Overall, I like the sound even if it was maybe too young for this mom of three but I liked the lyrics and it’s something we can use when we need to get our praise on in the house or in the car.  It gets us moving and sometimes dance can be the best form or praise and worship if you lack the words needed at the time.  I’m not fond of their look – it’s a bit too young for my tastes but I know that is what young adults will see and hopefully if they love the Lord they’ll look towards the music and if they don’t then maybe the look will draw those to the Lord.  I think I will see if I can find their other album at the library, if not maybe I’ll be asking for them for Christmas!


(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws




Must be 18 years old or older, a U.S. resident, all entries will be verified those that do not complete the entries will be null and void.  Click on the Rafflecopter link below.

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B&B Media: Our God Comes Worship CD #grow4christ

About the CD:

Antioch Live, the worship band for Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, has signed with the new record label Clear Day Worship. As the music arm of Clear Day Media Group based in Waco, Texas, Clear Day Worship and Antioch Live debuted the new album OUR GOD COMES at the World Mandate Conference September 20 and the CD hit #2 on iTunes.

“World Mandate 2013 was the perfect venue for launching this new CD. Everyday people were united by a passion for Jesus with a desire to worship God and change the world. That is what we are about,” states Clear Day Media Group president, David Seibert. “OUR GOD COMES is a passionate and thrilling worship release captured at Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX. We look forward to seeing how God uses this worship music to bless the Church.” continues Seibert.

Antioch is home to a worldwide church planting and worship movement, ministering to the needs of thousands internationally. Antioch Community Church currently has 30 church plants in the United States and another 40 in other parts of the world with more than 30,000 people involved with the movement. Antioch Live’s “Forever Sound” CD released last year was #3 on iTunes.

The worship music and lyrics on OUR GOD COMES expresses the heart cry, prayers and joy of the worship team, songwriters and musicians from Antioch, led by James Mark Gulley. From the opening strains of audience approval, joyous praise and worship floods the listeners’ ears and ageless unchanging truths find a new sound for today! The savvy musical arrangements and gifted song writing flow from “Come” to “Our God Comes”, and the glorious experience is documented from the choruses of “Wonderful Counselor”, “How Much More” and “Savior Forever”.

Clear Day Media Groupcreates products to help people see God clearly and impact the world through Christ-centered content.

The 72-minute, live recording was produced by James Mark Gulley and assistant Owen Wible, recorded by Randy Adams and mastered at Marcussen Mastering in Hollywood, CA by Stephen Marcussen. Featuring songwriters James Mark Gulley, Stephen Gulley, Brandon Seibert, Thomas Wilson and Johanna Six, OUR GOD COMES also features worship leaders James Mark Gulley, Stephen Gulley, Johanna Six and Clare Berlinsky.

The full track listing forOUR GOD COMES is as follows:

  1. Come
  2. God And King
  3. Wonderful Counselor
  4. God Who Saves
  5. How Much More
  6. I Will Raise
  7. …Response
  8. Light Me Up
  9. Awaken Us
  10. One Hundred Three
  11. …Return
  12. Savior Forever
  13. …Selah
  14. Our God Comes

You can find more information and how to purchase on Clear Day Media’s website.

My Opinion:

I have to say that I really enjoyed this CD – I played it in the vehicle and all my children were singing along almost instantly with it even though most of the songs were new to us all.  Most of the songs were quiet so perfect for worship as the title indicates – that really just puts you into the mood to just worship the Lord with some great music and lyrics as you come before His presence.   I wish I had brought it with me to the hospital to listen too so I could have some great worship music as my daughter and I face long hours of waiting.  The instruments do not overpower the vocalists and add a lot to the worship experience.  So if you’re looking for a new worship CD then I have to recommend Our God Comes to add to your music collection.  It’s full of beautiful lyrics that makes one feel closer to the Lord and the music complements it perfectly.


(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Vineyard Worship: ‘This is Your Kingdom Come Now’ review AND contest!

About the Album:

This dynamic new album features veteran worship leader and songwriter Casey Corum and a cast of friends recorded before a full house over two nights at Corum’s home church. Listeners will also be introduced to the powerful voices of Torri Baker (Vineyard Church – Columbus, Ohio) and Crispin Schroeder (Northshore Vineyard – Covington, Louisiana), as well as a 17-voice gospel choir. Threads of R&B, gospel, and modern rock are woven together to create a fresh sound while, at the same time, being deeply rooted in the hallmark Vineyard worship value of intimacy with God.

My Opinion:

This is just another big hit for Vineyard Worship music – somewhat upbeat but also quiet and can be used for just focusing on the Lord and what He is doing and has done.  There are 12 tracks on the album and all are wonderful but I think the one that really spoke to me was “Heaven Come Down” – I tried to find a YouTube video to share with you but there isn’t one of this version.  You can listen to Love Has Rescued Me though if you’d like to hear a sample of what this great worship album sounds like.  All three of my children enjoy it and are actually listening to it as they clean rooms – what a great way to instill a love of the Lord while doing the every day things of life!


I’m doing the contest a bit different this time – as I know leaving a comment for each entry is a bit tedious – I’m going to post the contest for a physical copy of the CD over at my other blog, An Ohio Reviewing Mom.  If you head over there, you’ll find the Rafflecopter form to enter the contest to make it easier on you and me.

**Disclaimer:  Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Cultivation Generation: My Foundation CD (review and giveaway)


I had the chance to listen and enjoy the My Foundation CD (download) and for me, when music comes on that really just praises and worships the Lord – it’s a winner and this was a winner.  My Foundation has 13 tracks on it and all are really wonderful and even my children were signing and dancing along at home and in the van.  The 13 tracks are:

  1. My Soul Longs
  2. Love Has Come, Love Has Won
  3. God Don’t Never Change
  4. My Foundation
  5. Let It Shine
  6. The Bridegroom
  7. Your Kingdom’s Here
  8. Worthy
  9. Life To Us
  10. Enthroned On High
  11. Walls Come Down
  12. They That Wait
  13. Song Of Hope (Digital Bonus)


The whole album has a rock sound to it, upbeat but still praising and worshiping God.  I know some don’t like this type of music for Christians, but for me, anything that will get my husband listening to it is a positive thing and I believe even the Lord can use music with a rock beat (in church though, a whole new post) to get at the most hardened hearts.  Of course, if you’re like me and like different types of music then this will fit that – and with the music’s lyrics giving it all to God it’s a win-win situation.


**Disclaimer: “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



This will be for a download version of this album, no physical CD will be mailed to you!

Make sure to leave an email in your comment – I don’t want to have to track you down through Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere :D   Also you must be 18 years or older – winner will be randomly selected by a process decided by me on June 27th, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. EST.  Winner will have 48 hours to contact me or a new winner will be selected.

To enter you must do #1 first, all others are optional:

  1. Visit Vineyards site and tell me one thing you learned about them.
  2. Like Vineyard on Facebook.
  3. Follow me via Google Friend Connect (see right side bar)
  4. Follow my blog on Facebook.
  5. Follow me on Twitter.
  6. Like Vineyard on Twitter.
  7. Share this contest via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other method (leave a comment with the link where you shared for each way you shared, up to 3 extra entries)



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A Place to Belong CD


About the CD:


Every woman needs acceptance, love and a place to belong. That’s the underlying theme of the new music CD, A Place to Belong (Lifeway Worship) from singer/songwriter Lisa Troyer, president of Circle of Friends Ministries. Refreshingly authentic and dynamic, the companion worship CD to Troyer’s recently released book, A Place to Belong: Out of Our Comfort Zone and into God’s Adventure (Barbour Publishing), tenderly draws women into a place of true freedom and belonging in the very heart of God.


In her book, Troyer shares her own journey to acceptance as well as the story of a group of dynamic “women helping women” who call themselves the Circle of Friends. Troyer encourages readers to form their own circle of friends, a safe place of truth and love where women can develop lasting relationships and discover together the purposes of God for their lives.

Obviously noticeable in both the book and CD is Troyer’s passion to lead others into the bottomless love of God. This fierce desire compelled her to plunge deeply into the heart of the issues all women face, but most keep to themselves. With tendencies toward depression, anxiety attacks and an eating disorder, Troyer knows firsthand the bondage of secrecy and shame. “Living with a secret,” Troyer admits, “doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t change your heart. As well hidden as your secret is, that is how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.”


The newly released companion CD reinforces her book’s admonition that there is complete freedom and acceptance to be found in the Father. “This CD was birthed out of the knowledge that music is so often used by God to solidify a written and/or spoken message,” says Troyer. “Dawn Yoder and I have been blessed by the friendship and songwriting partnership God’s given us, and songs like ‘Let Us Bow Down,’ ‘Lifting My Praise Up’ and ‘I Found Grace’ (Circle of Friends theme song) are reflective of how, by finding a place to belong, we are inspired to share encouragement, while keeping our focusing on worshipping in ‘Spirit and in truth.’”


A Place to Belong has the potential of changing the way women think about themselves, about others and about doing God’s work in this world. In both her book and worship CD, Troyer challenges women to connect to one another, comfort each other and affirm each other in using the gifts God has given them. Ultimately, A Place to Belong offers a healing dose of real hope that life can be rich, life can have purpose and no woman need ever be alone.


The new Circle of Friends CD is available online at and iTunes. It can also be purchased through your local Christian retailer.


Find a Place to Belong.

My Opinion:

This is a wonderful CD to have on hand whether you have the book or not, this put me in a frame of mine to just worship the Creator in the van, at home, or elsewhere (I added the music to my iPod from the CD).  There are a total of 8 songs:

  1. love falls down
  2. I believe in you
  3. your love endures
  4. let us bow down
  5. thank you for the cross
  6. God the victorious
  7. I found grace
  8. lifting my praise up

Even my children, who don’t usually like ‘grown up’ worship music were singing along to the music!  When I asked them what they thought the were all like “it’s sort of old fashioned” but my 7 year old did say she liked it.  It is almost relaxing, so it’s great if you need to unwind from a stressful day and just focus on the Lord or as a time of personal worship.  This is going to be one that I keep coming back to when I just need that down time with the Lord.


**Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of this from B&B media in exchange for my honest review/opinion, no other compensation was given.

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I Love Your Presence music CD – review and giveaway **Closed, no winner, no entries**

About I Love Your Presence:

I LOVE YOUR PRESENCE was recorded live at the Burn Bright: Worship and The Kingdom of God conference, hosted by Vineyard Worship.  Several hundred worship leaders and worshipers gathered in the Arizona desert to explore the nature of God’s kingdom through music and teaching with some of the Vineyard’s most gifted communicators and musicians.  This inspiring collection of songs recorded live at The Vineyard Church North Phoenix will immerse listeners in the powerful worship that was the highlight of the even.  I LOVE YOUR PRESENCE reminds us to not just think of worship as singing songs, but also laying down our lives for Him.

My Opinion:

This is a great album to listen to when you need to just feel God’s love and worship Him through music.  I enjoyed listening to it while I did my Bible reading and even played it quietly in the background while my children did their school work during the day.  It was a great way to feel grounded in His Word and also to make His presence (no pun intended) as we went through our daily routine.  I know that we will continue to enjoy both it’s peaceful qualities as well as the worshipful aspects that can weave it’s way into our lives.

There are 13 songs on the CD and they are:

  1. Let It Come
  2. Glory to the King
  3. Saving Grace
  4. What Can I Bring
  5. Love of God
  6. One Thing Remains
  7. Now and Ever
  8. Invitacion Fountain
  9. Sweet Mercies
  10. Isn’t He/Amazing Grace
  11. I Love Your Presence
  12. Perfect Sacrifice
  13. I Life My Eyes Up (Psalm 121)
“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


You will win a downloadable version (no physical product will be mailed to you) of this album to enjoy!

You must be 18 year or older.  A resident of the U.S.  One entry per household only.  Void where prohibited.  You must leave an email in your entry – if I cannot contact you I will chose another winner.  Winner will be randomly selected by a random process decided upon by me on Friday, February 17th, 2012 at noon EST   The first entry is mandatory.

  1. Why would you like to win this CD?
  2. Follow Vineyard Music on Facebook
  3. Follow my blog on Facebook or via Networked Blog (see right side bar) or both (leave a separate  comment for each if you do both)
  4. Follow my blog on Google+
  5. Follow on Bloglovin (see right side bar)
  6. Share this giveaway on Twitter, Facebook or other social media – leave me a link to the post or use the share buttons at the bottom of the post. (click on the time stamp for the permalink of your post)

Leave a comment for each way you enter w/a way to contact you.  Please read all other rules above.

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Abide with Me by John H. Parker and Paul Seawright

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
John H. Parker


Paul Seawright

and the book:

Abide With Me (Includes a CD of 20 wonderful, favorite British hymns.)

New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press; Har/Com edition (May 1, 2009)


John Parker, Professor of English at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, has taught Shakespeare and other literary classes there for twenty-eight years. He holds the M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee, and also the Master of Arts in Religion from Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis. At Lipscomb and previously at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, he has also taught classes in the Bible.

Paul Seawright is currently Chair of Photography at the University of Ulster. Previously he was Dean of Art Media and Design at the University of Wales, Newport, and the Director of the Centre for Photographic Research. His photographs have been exhibited worldwide and are held in many museum collections including The Tate London, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, International Centre of Photography New York, Portland Art Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Paul 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, currently chairing their Fellowship panel. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. He has published six books.

Visit the authors’ website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press; Har/Com edition (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0892216905
ISBN-13: 978-0892216901


Abide With Me
A Photographic Journey Through Great British Hymns

Text by John H. Parker

Photography by Paul Seawright


The focus of Abide with Me is place—the places in England and Wales where the great Britishhymns were written and where the stories of the men and women who wrote them unfolded: Olney (“Amazing Grace”), Brighton (“Just As I Am”), Stoke Newington (“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”), Broadhembury (“Rock of Ages”), and many others. This book shows and tells about those places and what you would see if you visited them.

On the north coast of England, silhouetted against the gray sky and the dark sea, stand the ruins of Whitby Abbey. There in the sixth century a common sheep herder named Caedmon wrote the earliest surviving hymn written in English. In the centuries following—Middle Ages, Renaissance, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century—men

and women devoted to Christ and blessed with the gift of poetry composed the words of the English hymns sung in Britain, in America, and across the globe, generation after generation—sung in times of happiness, grief, joy, fear, and wonder. Here are the places those writers lived and their life stories.

Join us now for a stroll through the quaint Cotswolds, the beautiful Lake District, bustling

London, and the glorious poppy-bedecked English countryside as you meet the great minds whose works have inspired, uplifted, and carried us through the tragedies and triumphs of our lives. It’s a journey of the heart and soul—a meandering through your own spirituality.

Speaking to one another in psalms

and hymns and spiritual songs.

Ephesians 5:19

Lost & Found

Olney, on the Ouse River in Northampton, England, not far from Cambridge, was a small farming and crafts village in the late eighteenth century. As we drive into the market square this Sunday afternoon, we find a bustling and cheerful town with two popular claims. One is the annual pancake race on Shrove Tuesday when housewives run 415 yards from the marketplace to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, each carrying a pan holding a pancake, which she flips on crossing the finish line. The other is the curate and preacher for that church from 1764–1780, John Newton (1725–1807), and the vicarage, where he wrote perhaps the most popular hymn of all time, “Amazing Grace.”

The church was expanded during those years to accommodate the crowds who came to hear John, and its square tower still rises over the Ouse River. The sanctuary is large and impressive, and a stained-glass window commemorates the preacher and his hymn. Still, time has encroached a bit. His pulpit is now somewhat pushed back into a corner, though John Newton’s Pulpit is proudly displayed along one edge. John’s rather smallish portrait hangs on the stone buttress of one wall, sharing space between a fire extinguisher and a bulletin board where his name promotes a ministry in Sierra Leone. But after 230 years, it’s still John Newton whose story and hymn live on here.

John was born to a master mariner, who was often away at sea, and a mother who taught him Bible lessons and the hymns of Isaac Watts (see pages 38-41). But she died

when he was only six years old. At age eleven, after a few years of living with relatives or attending boarding school, he began sailing with his father.

In time John fell in love with Mary Catlett, daughter of friends of his mother, but in 1744 he was forced to serve on a naval ship. He records that while watching England’s coast fade as the ship sailed away, he would have killed either himself or the captain except for his love of Mary.

Later John managed to join the crew of a slave trade ship, the brutal traffic he so much regretted in later years. This life blotted out his early religious training and led him into bad behavior. Finally, though, when a fierce March storm one night in 1748 threatened to sink his ship, he prayed for the first time in years. And for the rest of his life he regarded every March 21 as the anniversary of his conversion. Relapses occurred, but after a serious illness he committed himself to God, returned to England, and married

Mary in 1750.

John worked for a while in civil service in the region of Yorkshire. But soon he became popular as a lay preacher, developing friendships with George Whitefield and John

Wesley, and began to consider the ministry. Although he studied biblical languages and theology privately, he received ordination in the Church of England only after completing

his autobiography, Authentic Narrative, in 1764, an account that caused influential religious leaders to recognize his spiritual commitment. The book was soon translated into several languages.

John’s principal sponsor for priesthood, Lord William Dartmouth, helped arrange the station for John in Olney, and for the next sixteen years he lived in the vicarage and

preached at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s and in surrounding parishes. His religious devotion, remarkable personal history, and natural poetic skills gave John the gifts and preparation for writing hymns—especially one great hymn—but he needed a circumstance to prompt him. That came in 1767 when William Cowper moved to Olney.

William was one of England’s fine eighteenth-century poets, producing The Task (1784) and translations of Homer. He received an excellent literary education at Westminster

School in London and, at his father’s wish, studied for the bar. But he lived an often-miserable life. Depression, his distaste for the law, poverty, and an ill-fated romance with his cousin Theadora Cowper ruined any chances of happiness. More than once he attempted suicide.

During this trauma William found relief in the home of friends first made in Huntingdon—Morley and Mary Unwin, a religious and wealthy couple. When Morley died from a fall from his horse in April of 1767, Mary moved to Olney with her daughter Susanna to be near the renowned preacher John Newton. In fact, only an orchard stood between the rear yard of their house, Orchard Side, and John’s vicarage. Soon, William also came to Olney and moved in with them. The two poets became close friends, and by 1771 they were collaborating on what became one of England’s most successful hymnals, The Olney Hymns.

On a bright June afternoon we stroll with Elizabeth Knight in the garden of Orchard Side, now the Cowper & Newton museum, where she has been curator for more than thirty years. Nestled in the rows of flowers is an odd little summerhouse in which William gazed through its side and rear windows. Here he wrote most of the hymns in his part of the collection. After another lapse into depression, he wrote few others, but by that time he had composed his great hymns, “There is a Fountain” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”

Leaving the Orchard Side garden, we walk through the site of the original orchard, to the back of the two-story brick vicarage, and look up to the last dormer window on the top right. Here, in this room, during the last two weeks of December 1772, John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace.”

In his book Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Hymn (Harper Collins, 2002), music historian Steve Turner records that John routinely wrote hymns to accompany his sermons and composed “Amazing Grace” in preparation for a New Year’s Day sermon on January 1, 1773. He also observes that the words of the hymn evidently paraphrase entries from John’s notebook. For example, the entry “Millions of unseen dangers” is rendered “through many dangers, toils, and snares” in the song. Turner gives these illustrations of Newton’s use of the Scriptures in the hymn:

Newton embroidered biblical phrases

and allusions into all his writing.

The image of being lost and found alludes to the parable

of the prodigal son, where the father

is quoted as saying in Luke 15:24,

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again;

he was lost, and is found.”

His confession of wretchedness may have been drawn

from Paul’s exclamation in Rom. 7:24,

“O wretched man that I am!

Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

The contrast of blindness and sight refers directly

to John 9:25, when a man healed by Jesus says,

“One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind,

now I see.”

Newton had used this phrase in his diary

during his seafaring days when he wrote on

August 9, 1752,

“The reason [for God’s mercy] is unknown to

me, but one thing I know, that whereas

I was blind, now I see.”

Turner observes that this day of the introduction of “Amazing Grace,” in Lord Dartmouth’s Great House in Olney, was also the last that the despondent William Cowper came to church.

John and William published The Olney Hymns in 1779. The following year, 1880, William Cowper died, and John accepted a pulpit position at St. Mary Woolnoth Church in London. Audiences continued large here as well. Visitors today can pass through a wrought-iron gate and coffee shop at the entrance, walk through the church doors into the sanctuary, and view the ornate pulpit where the slave-trader turned preacher delivered sermons for the next twenty-seven years, becoming a major figure in the

evangelical portion of the Anglican Church. He died on December 21, 1807, and was buried with Mary at St. Mary Woolchurch in London. They were re-interred at the Church

of St. Peter and St. Paul in Olney in 1893. And he is primarily remembered for these touching words:

Amazing Grace (1772)

Ephesians 2:8-9

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!

The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures;

He will my Shield and Portion be,

As long as life endures.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

Will be forever mine.

My Opinion:

Abide with Me is a wonderful addition to any Christian’s, regardless of denomination, library especially if you like hymns. To me, hymns are more than just old, out dated songs, but are a written of history of the church’s love for Christ and the desire to worship Him as well as showing the history in the time they were written. Amazing Grace is my all time favorite hymn, it just shows how wonderful it is to be washed in Jesus’ blood and be forgiven. Abide with Me will take you on a journey on the how and why a hymn was written as well as some background information on the one who penned the hymn.

The pictures in this beautiful hard bound book make it feel as if you are actually traversing the English countrysides where these hymns were written. There are pictures of the inside of the writer’s homes, church and other places showing where the writer lived. Some of the composers that you visit in this book are John Newton, Henry Lyte and Sarah Flower Adams. Some of the hymns are Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, among other beautiful, timeless hymns.

The book comes with a free 24 track CD of the hymns being performed by Ray Walker of the Jordanaires and other artists. The hymns are sung in rich tone and are beautifully done – so much so it may just turn someone who doesn’t like hymns into a person who enjoys them. When I listened to the CD I could feel myself sitting in huge, cavernous cathedral listening to these songs at the time they were penned – it provided an extra sensory experience to go along with an already wonderful book.

If you want to know the story behind some of the greatest hymns written, I suggest you add this book to your library. If you don’t know which was written for a sister’s wedding in 30 minutes or which poet and hymnist would die ministering in India (amid other fascinating facts of these men and women of God) then I suggest this book to you from publishers, New Leaf Publishing.

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