Creator's Top 10 Unique Hymn Stories
by Rod Ellis
1. Ville du Havre
(“It Is Well With My Soul”)
Horatio G. Spafford was an attorney in Chicago. He was planning for the family to travel to Europe in the late fall of 1873 when urgent business detained him. His wife and four daughters set sail without him. In the middle of the ocean, their ship collided with an English sailing ship and sank. The daughters, Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie, were among the 226 who drowned; Mrs. Spafford was among the few who survived. She sent him a telegram as soon as she reached land saying only, “Saved Alone.” Spafford immediately departed for Europe. When his ship neared the location of the sunken vessel, he penned the words to “It Is Well with My Soul.” The name of the French liner, Ville du Havre, is the name of the tune we sing so affectionately.
(“Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners,” “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus,” “Praise the Lord! Ye Heavens, Adore Him,” “I Will Sing of My Redeemer,” “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”)
Hyfrydol means “Good Cheer.”
3. Austrian Hymn
(“Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” “We Are Called to Be God’s People”)
Austrian Hymn was written by Franz Joseph Haydn as the Austrian national anthem.
(“In the Cross of Christ I Glory”)
Ithimar Conkey was organist and choirmaster at Central Baptist Church in Norwich, Connecticut. One Sunday morning during Lent the only choir member to show up was soprano Mrs. Beriah S. Rathbun. Conkey was so frustrated that immediately after playing the Prelude, he left the service. That afternoon, filled with remorse about having left worship, he reflected on one of the hymns to have been sung, “In the Cross of Christ I Glory.” He remembered its boring, obsolete tune, and before that evening wrote a new tune, naming it in honor of his one faithful choir member, Rathbun.
(“Crown Him with Many Crowns”)
Diademata gets its name from the Greek word meaning “crowns.”
6. Falls Creek
(“Wherever He Leads I’ll Go”)
Falls Creek was the name of the Oklahoma Baptist Assembly where “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go” was first sung.
(“Jesus Christ Is Risen Today,” “Let the Whole Creation Cry”)
Llanfair is actually the first two syllables of a small village name is Wales: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogery-chwyrndobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which means “Church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel near the rapid whirlpool of the church of St. Tysillio by the red cave.”
8. St Agnes
(“Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,” “Happy the Home When God Is There”)
John B. Dykes named St Agnes for a 13 year old girl in Rome who was martyred in 304 A.D. Although she was a beautiful girl, Agnes refused to get married, saying she could have no spouse but Jesus Christ.
9. Terra Beata
(“This Is My Father’s World”)
Terra Beata means “blessed earth.”
(“Not What These Hands Have Done”)
Aurora was the name of Norman Johnson’s first piano teacher.