What a Friend They Had in Jesus
The Theological Visions of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Hymn Writers
Harry T. Cook
Have you ever found yourself humming a favorite childhood hymn, only to realize you could no longer embrace its message? In What a Friend They Had in Jesus, Harry Cook explores how hymns reflect the religious beliefs of their times. He revisits the texts of popular hymns, posing such questions as: How true are they to the biblical texts that seem to have inspired them? What aspects of nineteenth- and twentieth-century piety have persisted into the twenty-first century through the singing of those hymns? And, how does one manage the conflict between the emotional appeal and the theological content of such hymns?
Read an excerpt from What a Friend They Had in Jesus about the hymn “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me,” penned by Edward Hopper in 1871.
Praise for What a Friend They Had in Jesus:
“Important and heart-warming … Cook’s keen insights into the most familiar of old-time gospel hymns … help you do theology like a grownup.”
—Robin Meyers, author of Saving Jesus from the Church
“A compelling look at centuries of Christian theology and practice, at how particular hymns have shaped American faith and religious thought.”
—Richard Webster, Director of Music and Organist at Trinity Church, Boston
“A call to integrity in worship … This exciting, penetrating and provocative study explores the theology we sing, which re-enforces the dated and pre-modern theology from which the Christian faith seeks to escape.”
—John Shelby Spong, author of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World
Harry T. Cook is an Episcopal priest, journalist, author and peace-and-justice activist. His many publications include Long Live Salvation by Works: A Humanist Manifesto (2012) and Resonance: Biblical Texts Speaking to 21st Century Enquirers (2011).