• David Winkler

" ... when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."  Isaiah 26:9

I'm writing this on March 17, 2020, when it seems that the Coronavirus situation is on everyone's mind.  Besides affecting schools, businesses, travel, and the stock market, it's also affecting our churches. My own church here in Austin is probably not going to meet again until at least after May 1. That includes weekly rehearsals for the orchestra I direct.  Though these inconveniences are unfortunate, it seems that almost everyone understands the urgency to take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.      Christians in past generations often regarded plagues and other disasters as part of God's corrective judgment.  Indeed, this seems to be a theme throughout scripture.  God is not in heaven, throwing bolts of lightning down upon us.  But it does get our attention, whether it be in our personal lives or on a national level, when we encounter various difficulties.  At such times, we should search our hearts, humble ourselves before Almighty God, repent of our sins, and remember that ultimately God is in control of the universe.       A friend from Germany posted the following quote from a letter Martin Luther wrote to a fellow minister regarding an epidemic that occurred in the year 1527.  It shows, I think, a great balance between trusting in God's care and using the common sense He has given us.  Luther wrote:

" ... I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God."                                                        —from Martin Luther's Works, Volume 43      May the Lord bless us all in these uncertain days.  And hopefully, before too long, we can get back to our lives and making music together!

  • David Winkler

I love a good biography.  To read about the life of an accomplished person can be very inspiring.  Here are some that I've enjoyed that feature a variety of musical personalities:

Messiah - A New Look at the Composer, the Music, and the Message by N.A. Woychuk.  A detailed study of Handel and his composition of Messiah, from a Christian worldview.  Available from Scripture Memory Fellowship.

Musical Stages by Richard Rodgers. A fascinating autobiography of one of America's greatest composers in the popular field (think "Rodgers and Hammerstein").

Glorious Is Thy Name - B.B. McKinney: The Man and His Music by Robert Hastings.

B.B. McKinney is well-known among Baptists for the hymns he wrote, such as "Glorious Is Thy Name" and "Have Faith in God."  He was also an outstanding leader in the world of church music during the middle part of the 20th century, and was the first director of what is now known as Lifeway Worship.

He's Everything to Me by Ralph Carmichael. Known for his innovative approach to Christian music, Ralph Carmichael was prominent in both secular and sacred genres. This autobiography was published in 1986 (Ralph today is age 92).

Rich Mullins - an Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith.  Rich Mullins was one of the most successful singer/songwriters during the early days of contemporary Christian music, yet he remained a humble servant of God.  

Do you have any favorites to add to this list?  Write me and let me know!

  • David Winkler

Last month, I mentioned four books which I've found to be helpful in understanding the world of classical music and culture in general.  Here are several books which I've enjoyed about the subject of hymns:

Sing with Understanding - An Introduction to Christian Hymnology

by Harry Eskew and Hugh T. McElrath

Really a textbook for a hymnology class, but gives a good overview of the history of hymns.

Isaac Watts - Father of English Hymnology

by N.A. Woychuk

A short biography of one of the most influential hymn writers.  Available from Scripture Memory Fellowship. An expanded version of the book titled Singing the Psalms with Isaac Watts includes the text of the biography, plus all of Watts' versified Psalms.  

Then Sings My Soul - 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories

by Robert J. Morgan

There are lots of books out there which tell the "back story" of the hymns we sing.  This is one of my favorites.

Presidential Praise

by C. Edward Spann and Michael E. Williams, Sr.

The authors researched the lives of each of the American presidents, from Washington through George W. Bush, and uncovered a favorite hymn for each one.  Includes a recording of all the hymns as sung by a choir from Dallas Baptist University.

Do you have a favorite book about hymns?  Write me at and let me know.

P.S. — if you are looking for music for Christmas, be sure to check out the CHRISTMAS page of our website!

Entire contents copyright 2001-2021 David S. Winkler. All rights reserved.
Send comments about this site to the webmaster.