THE BOOK OF WORSHIP: 365 Inspiring Readings Based on Worship Songs and Classic Hymns
John Randall Dennis
Bethany House Publishers
If you love worship music and old hymns, then you'll enjoy THE BOOK OF WORSHIP: 365 Inspiring Readings Based on Worship Songs and Classic Hymns. Written by John Randall Dennis, this easy-to-read devotional covers an entire year's worth of material. The book itself is divided into seasonal themes of the Christian calendar cycle: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost and the Season After Pentecost. Each week follows its own theme, which includes a song or hymn (including the melody) as well as Scripture or individual reading portions.
The author acknowledges:
"Our lives are made up of cycles and seasons. Of course, we walk through a linear succession of events and relationships. But underneath all the components of birth, childhood, education, friendships, marriage, joys, hardships, jobs, parenting… there's a rhythm. It's as if God has orchestrated the music of our lives to a time signature, counting 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4…morning, noonday, evening, night, Sunday through Saturday, January through December, 1-2-3-4."
Fortunately, if you fall behind, you can simply catch up in your reading by moving to the appropriate season of the year. The music selection is rich and diverse. The melodies draw on a rich collection of hymns, including "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "Joy to the World" and "Be Thou My Vision."
More modern worship songs are largely by a collection of Integrity Music artists including Don Moen, Darlene Zchech, Darrell Evans and Lenny LeBlanc. Many readers will recognize popular songs such as "Open the Eyes of My Heart," "Shout to the Lord" and "I Give You My Heart."
The author draws a rich collection of excerpts for the readings. These portions are anchored by such beloved contemporary authors as Brennan Manning, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaffer, Madeleine L'Engle and Max Lucado. Along the way readers may be surprised to find contributions from more charismatic leaders. Among them: Kathryn Kuhlman, Jesse Duplantis and Roberts Liardon.
Dennis writes, "These prayers and readings are by Christians from all traditions and all ages; they come from people well known, less known and unknown. I like that because there is so much rich and good material to be enjoyed that is offered by contemporary Christians, Christians from ages past, and those from every time in between."
While the book includes some amazing lyrics and exceptional excerpts, one of the weaknesses is that it fails to tie the pieces together. There is little place for interacting with the material, whether through questions or a space for personal reflection. As a result, some may prefer to either journal or record thoughts and prayers in a separate notebook after reading.
Overall, this is a great collection of hymns and modern worship songs worthy of reflection and contemplation. The lovely layout of the book makes it easy to enjoy, and the placement of the song lyrics with melodies will tempt you to sing aloud as you read.
THE BOOK OF WORSHIP is recommended for those who love classic hymns and shorter devotional readings.
--- Reviewed by Margaret Oines.
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