• 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!

  • David Winkler

The Internet is a never-ending source of information, but I still appreciate having a well-stocked personal library.  Here are some "essential" titles I treasure relating to the classical music field and culture in general (next month, I will share a few more titles from my bookshelf):

How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer.  In this book, Schaeffer provides a sweeping view of Western history from a biblical worldview, from the time of the Romans up to the present (or at least until 1976, when the book was first published).  In his analysis, he shows the interrelation of philosophy, literature, art and music.  One thing it has helped me to understand is why "modern art" is often so strange and even absurd.

The Gift of Music - Great Composers and Their Influence, by Jane Stuart Mill and Betty Carlson. Two of Schaeffer's associates put together this book, which includes short biographies of over 40 classical composers, with commentary on each one, from a Christian worldview.

The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers, by Patrick Kavanaugh.  Music history usually tends to overlook the religious views of the great composers, but here Kavanaugh delves into the lives of twelve music masters, with some surprising quotes revealing their faith in the Almighty.

Delius As I Knew Him, by Eric Fenby.  In the latter years of his life, Frederick Delius became blind and paralyzed.  Eric Fenby, a young musician, came to live with Delius and his wife, and helped the aging composer complete several more works before his death.  I can't say that Delius is one of my favorite composers, but the book offers some fascinating insights on the compositional process from one who observed it firsthand. Delius was a staunch unbeliever, and Fenby provides some pointed commentary contrasting Delius' character with his own beliefs as a Christian.  A film based on this book, titled Song of Summer, can be viewed on YouTube.

What are some of the books on your shelf that you value most? Write me and let me know!