Timothy Dudley-Smith. Carol Stream, Ill.: Hope Publishing Co., 2003. 562 pp. $24.95. ISBN 0-916642-74-7.
This magnificent volume contains the collected hymn texts of one of the most widely published contemporary hymnwriters in the English-speaking world. Timothy Dudley-Smith retired in 1991 as a bishop in the Church of England. He has been named a “Fellow” by the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada, and his texts are published in over 250 hymnals and over 100 choral anthems. He is also the author of the newly published two-volume biography of England’s prolific evangelical clergyman/scholar, John Stott (InterVarsity Press, 1999 and 2001).
A House of Praise is a treasury of strong biblical texts for composers, pastors, and lovers of the gospel. The reader (or singer) is blessed by Dudley-Smith’s absolute mastery of the English language and his sensitive use of carefully selected words in the service of biblical truth. Whether used for private devotion or corporate worship, these are texts that faithfully proclaim the sovereignty of the triune God, the centrality of the cross, and the necessity and beauty of faithful discipleship.
The volume is arranged in three parts: (1) the 285 hymn texts, (2) about 180 pages of detailed notes on the hymns, and (3) almost 100 pages of indexes. As in the earlier volumes, the author provides a concise accounting of vital information for each hymn: the occasion for the writing of the hymn, suggested tunes, scriptural basis, and devotional emphasis. For this reviewer, these notes function as a commentary on the hymns, which are themselves precious mini- commentaries on gospel truth. There are ten very useful indexes—hymn collections, anthems, recordings, biblical sources, translations, altered texts, tunes, metrical index, themes, and first lines.
Hope Publishing Company has done it again—they have provided the body of Christ with another invaluable volume of God-honoring, Christ-centered texts for Christian worship.