My husband knows how much I love music, so he got me a special gift – a devotional book that has hymns and the stories behind them. I’m loving it.

I have these old journals, I wasn’t very good at writing consistently, but when I was frustrated enough or excited enough, I would write. I’ve got the usual ups and downs of the teen years in there, as well as some poems and songs I wrote. Those poems and songs make more sense, when you read the stories around them.

So it is with these beautiful hymns. They mean so much more when we understand the stories around them. “Now Thank We All Our God,” is a classic hymn to use during the Thanksgiving season, but the history behind it is thanking God for freedom from oppression, namely the Spanish invasion of the Netherlands. The phrase, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,” makes a lot more sense now. These people were grateful that Spanish oppression and exile were over and they sang their praises to God.

Take the time to dig a little. Learn some history. See what compelled people to do what they did. See why they couldn’t help but praising God for His goodness.

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