Hymns are some of the most beloved songs of all time. Hymnals contain hundreds of songs, and no two hymnals are alike. Anyone looking to learn the most popular hymns needs to know where to start. The following is a list of 10 of the most popular hymns, even though that will change somewhat by both taste and time.
„Amazing Grace“, one of the most popular songs of all time, was written by John Newton. A former slave trader, Newton wrote the words while studying a text from the Old Testament and reflecting on his old life. The tune is a variation of an old Scottish bagpipe song of the time.
„Be Thou My Vision“ traces its roots to Ireland. The words were written by Dallan Forgaill in the eighth century. Though it was translated from Old Irish into English by Mary E. Byrne in 1905, the tune is still from an old Irish folk song. „Be Thou My Vision“ is the most popular Irish hymn in English-speaking churches.
„What a Friend We Have in Jesus“ was originally a poem written by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855. He wrote the poem to comfort his mother in Ireland while he was living in Canada. The tune was later written by Charles Crozat Converse.
„Holy, Holy, Holy“ is a popular hymn written by Reginald Heber. Written for use on Trinity Sunday, the lyrics were set to a tune composed by John Bacchus Dykes. The tune was originally called Nicaea, which refers to the Nicaean Council of 325 A.D.
Another popular hymn, „Be Still My Soul,“ takes its melody from a composition by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The lyrics were both written and translated prior to Sibelius’s piece. Katharina von Schlegel wrote the original text in 1752, and it was translated into English by Jane Borthwick in 1855.
Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady wrote the words to the popular hymn „Rock of Ages“ in 1873. His poem was set to music by the popular hymn composer Thomas Hastings somewhere around 1830.
Sometimes referred to as the „Royal Navy Hymn,“ „Eternal Father Strong to Save“ contains references to three different Biblical events. The first verse refers to the Creator’s promise to refrain from flooding the earth again. The second talks of Christ’s miraculous walking on the water. The third speaks of the Holy Spirit’s role in the creation of the universe. The words were written by William Whiting, while the tune is attributed to John B. Dykes.
Written in 1912 in Albion, Mich., „The Old Rugged Cross“ is certainly one of the most popular hymns of all time. Apart from „Amazing Grace,“ it may be the most recorded hymn ever. Performers known to sing „The Old Rugged Cross“ include Al Green, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and June Carter. George Bernard wrote the song with help from Charles Gabriel.
Fanny J. Crosby, a blind hymn writer, wrote the words of „Blessed Assurance“ in 1873 to go along with the melody written by Phoebe P. Knapp in the same year. The story goes that Crosby was visiting Knapp, who was having a pipe organ installed. Knapp played the tune, which she called „Assurance,“ and asked her friend Crosby what she thought the song said. Crosby’s response was „Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.“ The rest is history.
„Great Is Thy Faithfulness“ is a popular hymn that is more recent than most. Its words were written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923, while the tune was composed by William Runyan. The Moody Bible Institute in Chicago claims this as its unofficial hymn, since Runyan was associated with MBI.
These 10 popular hymns have been cherished by millions of people for many years. Each of them contains outstanding examples of melody and structure. Even for non-believers, these songs often touch a certain nerve that only the greatest songs can.