Singing the Story: Sightings in Christian Music

This volume collects Rev. Glen V. Wiberg’s Pietisten columns together, revised and updated, and pairs each essay with the sheet music for the hymn discussed in the text.

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Sample Chapter

Download a sample chapter of Singing the Story, including the hymn "What Joy There Is" (PDF).

Praise for "Singing the Story"

Phil Anderson, professor of church history at North Park Theological Seminary, has reviewed Glen Wiberg’s Singing the Story in the December Covenant Companion. The PDF of the review is available online. A brief excerpt from the review:

Glen Wiberg has written a book, several years in the making, about lovely hymns and stories. One of its author’s favorite adjectives in describing that which grasps and holds a person’s imagination and affection, one’s mind and heart, may be said as well of Singing the Story—it is a “lovely” book. […] The book recounts stories with personal remembrances and insights of thirty-seven hymns and spiritual songs, with words and music of each printed, to proclaim “The Story” of the gospel and grace of God in Christ. As one who has reviewed dozens of books, this is the first that I have alternately read (words) and sung (music) out loud. What a delightful and edifying experience!

We are a people with a story. And the church’s song is about that story. When the people of God gather to recount the mighty acts of God, they invariably sing. That is particularly true within our pietistic heritage. Music carries and animates the story for the community of faith. There could be no one better to chronicle and illustrate the vibrant singing, past and present, of our tradition than Glen Wiberg. Preacher par excellence, true Pietist, and member of three Covenant Hymnal Commissions, Glen is uniquely qualified to take us on a journey through our hymnody. His is not an academic accounting, but rather a bringing to life the rich personal stories that lie beneath the surface of our songs—illustrating that faith lives in song and song nurtures faith. Fascinating and heartwarming reading!

—Royce Eckhardt
Musician and music editor of The Covenant Hymnal (1996)

Singing the Story is a faith-filled witness to its author’s own long pilgrimage of service in the proclamation of new life in Christ. As one who for decades has also “carried translations around in his heart,” Glen Wiberg compellingly demonstrates the intrinsic quality of hymns and spiritual songs, and celebrates the persons whose imagination and experience brought them to a life of ongoing song in the Church. Generations to come will be grateful for and edified by these personal and pastoral reflections on texts and tunes—the joyful singing of which is, as Erik Routley once wrote, the Christian’s “duty and delight.”

—Philip J. Anderson
Professor of Church History, North Park Theological Seminary

In this book, Wiberg successfully charts important contributions of Scandinavian and American Pietists to the music of global Christianity, as well as the dense network of connections between this often overlooked minority heritage and several mainline denominations. Rather than speak as the expert that he most definitely is, he has thankfully chosen to speak as a fellow layman, encouraging his readers to find child-like wonder in this anecdotal tour of Scandinavian and North American hymnody. With his own denomination as his starting point, the Evangelical Covenant Church, he remains true to the ecumenical spirit of his Swedish Pietist forebears. Readers of Lutheran, Evangelical Free, Moravian and many other faith backgrounds and ethnicities will find Wiberg to be an inclusive guide to this precious canon of music.

—Mark Safstrom
Chief Editor of Pietisten,
Lecturer of Swedish and Scandinavian Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Hymns

The book includes the following hymns:

  • Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound
  • And Can It Be That I Should Gain
  • At the Lamb’s High Feast
  • Behold a Host, Arrayed in White
  • By Gracious Powers
  • Children of the Heavenly Father
  • Chosen Seed and Zion’s Children
  • Come Celebrate the Presence of the Lord
  • Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain
  • Day by Day and with Each Passing Moment
  • Fill the Earth with Music
  • He the Pearly Gates Will Open
  • How Great the Joy
  • How Great Thou Art
  • I Sing With Joy and Gladness
  • If Asked Whereon I Rest My Claim
  • Jesus of Nazareth Passes By
  • Let All the World in Ev’ry Corner Sing
  • Let the Whole Creation Cry
  • Lord of all Gladness
  • More Secure Is No One Ever
  • O How Blest to Be a Pilgrim
  • O Let Your Soul Now Be Filled with Gladness
  • O Zion, Acclaim Your Redeemer
  • Our Mighty God Works Mighty Wonders
  • Prepare the Way, O Zion
  • Rejoice in God’s Saints
  • Seguirte Solo a Tí (We Worship Only You)
  • Shall We Gather at the River
  • Sing my Tongue, the Glorious Battle
  • Surrounded by God’s Silent, Faithful Angels
  • The Day of Resurrection!
  • The Numberless Gifts of God’s Mercies
  • Thy Holy Wings, Dear Savior
  • Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara
  • Unexpected and Mysterious
  • What Joy There Is
  • Whereso’er I Roam
  • With God as Our Friend

About the Author

An ordained pastor since 1953, Rev. Glen V. Wiberg has served Covenant churches in Haddam Neck, Connecticut, Princeton, Illinois, Youngstown, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois (North Park), and New Brighton, Minnesota. Rev. Wiberg served on three hymnal commissions (for the 1973 and 1996 hymnals, as well as the 1990 The Song Goes On supplement) for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has translated a number of hymns from Swedish, and four of his translations appear in the most recent Covenant Hymnal. He is also the author of Called to Be His People (1970), This Side of the River: a Centennial Story, Salem Covenant Church, 1888-1988 (1995), and Housing the Sacred: What I Have Learned and Still Am Learning About Preaching (2009). Rev. Wiberg lives in New Brighton with his wife Jane.