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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Then Sings My Soul, Special Edition, January 7, 2011
This review is from: Then Sings My Soul Special Edition (Paperback)
Through Book Sneeze, Thomas Nelson gave me a copy of the Special Edition of Then Sings My Soul by Robert Morgan to review. This book looks at 150 hymns, providing a hymn (or piece of a hymn) on one page followed by a second page providing the date, a short piece of scripture, then a short story related to the hymn. I love hymns and expected to enjoy reading about them, but this book drove me crazy.

Without any additional writing to explain the choices Morgan made, the author's choices were confusing. This special edition was broken into the sections. Within each section, the hymns were mostly in chronological order, but the order was not entirely chronological, with some hymns out of order and the Easter section contained two distinct chronological sequences. The selection of which hymns went into each section also confused me; "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" was considered a Christmas song while "His Name Is Wonderful" was placed within "Easter" despite the story ending with "Though it was inspired on Christmas day by a traditional Christmas text, `His Name is Wonderful' has never been pegged as a Christmas hymn. It's been a favorite of Christians around the world throughout the year" (page 85).

Some songs just didn't work well in this format. "O Holy Night" and "Hallelujah Chorus" come to mind because only small pieces could be printed on the page.

I did enjoy the selection of songs. While I don't like all the songs selected, many of my favorites were included. The added stories were frequently pleasant. I particularly enjoyed Morgan's extensive quotation of Gloria Gaither for "Because He Lives" (page 107).

A few of the stories contained commentary that made me cringe, such as the complaint "Unfortunately, few hymns are devoted exclusively to thanking God" (page 109) while discussing "Now Thank We All Our God" and Morgan claiming Hitler's attempts to "take over the German church and dictate the nation's religion" are being repeated in the United States "as social libertarians, aided by the media and the courts, seem determined to drain Christmas of its religious significance and make it a purely secular, pagan holiday" as justification for his own hymn "Jesus Christ is Born Today" (page 61).

The writing for the stories about the hymns was generally passable, but occasionally included awkward wording such as "despite the paucity of his own education" (page 119).

Aesthetically, I think the book works fairly well, except for the attempt at a torn texture for the edges. This artistic flair made pages stick together a bit, but I was more annoyed that the implementation was so poor. Nearly every three pages, the paper was cut straight, but it wasn't quite every three pages (or I might assume it was done intentionally to help with the sticking). At one point, there were eight clean-cut pages in a row. The different lengths of the pages combined to create a zig-zag if you look down the end, as if someone had attempted to trim the book with a giant pair of dull pinking shears.

I was bothered by the lack of citations. I understand that most of the stories would count as "general knowledge" and not require citations, but at times I wanted citations either because Morgan quoted someone without specifying the work being quoted or because what Morgan said conflicted with what I had previously heard.

I would definitely not recommend reading this book through in one sitting, but it could be enjoyable to flip through on occasion if the little details that drive me crazy wouldn't bother you.
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