Kids Zone
Kids Club
Order Stuff
Photo Gallery
  About Buddy | Sing Along | { Stories Behind the Music }  
Learn the stories behind some of your favorite hymns and hymn writers. Find interesting facts you may have never known.

Share your new found information with your family and friends. It will help bring the songs to life!



John Newton 1725-1807

When John Newton was almost seven years old his mother died. When he was eleven he went away and joined his father’s ship to become a seaman. He was disobedient and rebellious during his early years. After serving on many ships, he became the captain of his own slave ship. This involved capturing, selling and transporting black slaves to the West Indies and America. Indeed, this was a cruel and vicious life.

John’s conversion to Jesus started on March 10, 1748. On his way back to England, his ship got caught in a very bad storm. It was so bad in fact, that John thought he might perish. During the storm he picked up a book written by Thomas a Kempi called Imitation of Christ. The Holy Spirit used the words of this book and the frightening voyage to sow seeds in John’s heart.

John continued as a sea captain for the next several years. He held worship services for his crew each week in order to excuse his work as a slave trader. In time, John realized the cruelty of his work and started to fight against the practice of slavery. After he returned to England, he married and became a clerk for the next nine years. During this time he felt God call him to preach the gospel, so he studied hard for this ministry. When John was 39 he was ordained by the Anglican Church and became pastor of a church in a little village called Olney.

He told his story often. Many people from all religions came to hear about the “Old Converted Sea Captain.”He also liked to sing hymns. He liked to sing them so much that he just couldn’t find enough available to suit his liking. So he began writing them. “Amazing Grace,” John’s most famous hymn, is based on 1 Chronicles 17:16, 17.

back to top  
Stuart K. Hine 1899-1989

The story behind this hymn starts in Sweden. Carl Boberg, a Swedish pastor, once visited some beautiful land on the southeast coast of Sweden. One day while visiting this place he was quickly caught up in a thunderstorm. He was inspired by the lightning and thunder and the sunshine that followed soon after. He then heard the birds singing in the nearby trees. This experience prompted him to write a poem entitled, “O Store Gud.”

The words of his poem spread through Sweden. Someone put the words together with the tune of an old Swedish melody and it was sung in churches. It was so popular that a German man translated it into German and then someone translated it into Russian. In 1933, English missionaries, Stuart K. Hine and his wife, visited the Ukraine. It was there that they learned the Russian translation of “O Store Gud.” After traveling through the gorgeous Carpathian mountains, they decided to write original English lyrics to the song.

back to top  

Anna B. Warner 1820-1915

Anna and her sister Susan Warner lived in New York along the Hudson River all their lives. Both were very intelligent and very dedicated to serving God. They conducted Sunday school classes for the young men who attended the military school near where they lived. Because of their contributions to the lives of so many young men, they were honored by the military.

When their father died, they were left with very little income and turned to writing as a means of making a living. Susan especially became well-known for her works, including a popular book of that day called, The Wide, Wide World. Both women worked together on a collection of novels, one of which was called Say and Seal. “Jesus Loves Me” finds its origin in that book. The words of the song are spoken by a man named Mr. Linden to a dying child by the name of Johnny Fax.

The popularity of “Jesus Loves Me” has spread to the whole world. Missionaries tell stories of how children have been taught the love of Jesus through its words. It is also used as one of the first hymns taught to new converts in foreign lands.

back to top  

Augustus M. Toplady 1740-1778

Augustus Toplady was converted to Jesus at sixteen years old while visiting Ireland. He became a follower of John Calvin who was one of the reformers during that time. Augustus was not shy in speaking out against other beliefs that were popular in his day and age. This placed him into many controversies with people. The words to “Rock of Ages” is a result of those ongoing arguments as his thoughts were published in 1776 in The Gospel Magazine.

back to top  

George Bennard 1873-1958

George Bennard was born in Youngstown, Ohio , but his parents moved to Iowa soon after his birth. It was here that young George made his acceptance of Jesus. After his father’s death, George became a member of the Salvation Army.

Due to this experience, George was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Church. He conducted revival services for some time in the states of Michigan and New York. During one of these services in 1913, he experienced a very difficult personal trial and started thinking very seriously about Jesus’ sacrifice and what it meant to him. He reflected on the apostle Paul’s words about entering into the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. George became convinced that the cross was more than just a symbol, but instead the very heart of the gospel. It was this thought that inspired him to write the words to “The Old Rugged Cross.”

back to top  
Stories based on the factual backgrounds and experiences found in 101 Hymn Stories, Kenneth W. Osbeck, 1982.