Classic Hymns of Christendom by Chaplain Jim Shaw

I was asked to write a few paragraphs relative to what prompted me to write

Classic Hymns of Christendom.  From a teenager I have loved these great hymns, and singing in a superb a cappella choir conducted by our pastor and former director of our St. Louis seminary choir furthered this love.  When I became a pastor and then a chaplain I often had a devotional service (distinguished from a more formal Sunday service) based on such hymns.  The devotional service started with a short story on the author-and if known-why he or she wrote the hymn.  The devotion was based on the Scripture which inspired the phrases in the hymn.  The stanzas in the hymn were sung during the devotion.

When I did this as a protestant chaplain on cruises, some passengers strongly encouraged me to write a book using this model.
  I let the suggestion slide for several years.

Then in 2007 I was asked by our Director of Christian Education at Faith Lutheran Church, Georgetown, TX, the fine congregation which I attend, to teach a twelve week adult class on hymns of Christendom.   I enjoyed putting the course together.  When it was completed I was asked to teach another series and did.  When that was finished it seemed prudent to embark on a book with 52 hymns-one for each week of the year.  All together it took some two years to write.  Concordia Publishing House (CPH) offered to print it; then decided to break it into a book about the authors and a CD-ROM with the Scripture behind the phrases written as a leader’s guide, followed by a student’s guide.  From my perspective this was not a good idea; there are many books on hymnists but none on the Scripture which influenced them.  We went our separate ways and CPH gave me the right to obtain another publisher.

Several publishers offered to print it; I went with CrossLink Ministeries which publishes 25 evangelical books a year.  The project was a four year task:  two years in writing and two in acquiring pictures of the hymnists, completing copy editorial work, obtaining a fine artist for the cover and three artistic renditions of authors without pictures, and the final edition and publishing. In today’s world, I was surprised to discover that authors are also involved in marketing (I’m not wild about this, but now have a web-site,  From my perspective the four year project was well worth it; the vast majority of the book is Scripture through which God’s Holy Spirit touches lives.  My prayer is that the book will do this and make the hymns even more rewarding.

Chaplain Jim Shaw



Classic Christian hymns affirm and proclaim eternal truths. This book furthers an appreciation of how God’s Word serves as the foundation for the hymns of the Church which have stood the test of time and are loved by many. It highlights the Scriptures which inspired the poets and hymnists–making their hymns even more personally meaningful and spiritually rewarding. The book has multiple uses: personal devotions; leader’s guide; reproducible student’s guide; material to assist clergy with sermons, retreats, group devotions and to help choir/music directors with per-rehearsal devotions.


  1. Greetings Jim. Most interesting. As a Christian Church ( Disciples of Christ Pastor and fellow Army Chaplain, I too grew up on Great Hymns of the Faith,
    Which served as “jump off point” for many Field Chapel Services in South Vietnam.
    Chaplain (COL) Raymond E. Barry, USA, (Ret)