In the new book, How Sweet the Sound: The Power and Promise of 30 Beloved Hymns (Our Daily Bread Publishing), author Laura Smith takes a fresh look at 30 classic hymns, sharing warm devotional stories and making meaningful connections between these songs of the past and our twenty-first century lives.
Each chapter includes the lyrics to a favorite hymn, an interesting modern-day story of how that hymn continues to impact lives, and questions for contemplation. These stories will appeal to those who grew up in church singing from a hymnal, as well as a new generation seeking truth put to music. You'll enjoy hearing the stories of how hymns have affected other people's lives as you remember how the hymns you treasure have affected yours.
Smith is a music lover. She grew up singing old hymns in her traditional church, then rushing home to count down the rest of the Top 40 on Billboard's music charts with Casey Kasem. A best-selling author, Smith speaks around the country sharing the love of Christ with women at conferences and events. She lives in the college town of Oxford, Ohio, with her husband and four kids.
Q: Laura, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself, tell us a little about you.
Hello! Thanks for having me!!! I'm a writer and speaker who loves Jesus and loves to tell other people about His amazing grace! I am happily married to the man of my dreams, have four incredible kiddos (2 girls and 2 boys) and live in the picturesque college town of Oxford, Ohio.
Q: Tell us about your writing ministry and some of the books you have written.
I've been blessed to write ten books ranging from six young adult/new adult novels focusing on the struggles teen and college girls encounter (body image, relationships, loss, etc.) and how the only real way to get through them is through a relationship in Christ (John 15:5), two Bible resources for kids exploring the different people in the Bible and what we can learn from them, a devotional for tween/teen girls, and my newest title, How Sweet the Sound: The Power and Promise of 30 Beloved Hymns.
Q: What made you decide to write a book about hymns?
I've always been a huge music lover. When my publisher was considering putting out a book on hymns and reached out to me, I started praying. That day God flooded my mind with ways hymns have impacted me, how their lyrics, which point to who God is, have been so powerful and helpful to me in my own faith journey. I jotted down two chapters of recent instances in where hearing a hymn had inspired me, sent them to my publisher, and the rest is history.
Q: What are the values of hymn singing for the church and Christians?
As I dove into and studied the thirty hymns in this book I found three themes that seemed to resonate throughout all the hymns:1. God is Almighty 2. God loves us 3. God will never forsake usThese are such beautiful truths that can get us through anything. Think about that. The worst storm of life you've been in-and as you go through it that 1. God is Almighty, more powerful than that storm, that broken relationship, that health scare, that struggle 2. God loves you, wants what's best for you, is on your side and 3. God's not going anywhere, no matter how bad it gets, how many times you fall, how long it takes He is faithful and will not leave you. That is such sweet relief!! The sweetest sound!The more we sing these hymns, have them playing as the soundtrack to our lives (in our cars, in our earbuds, on our home speakers as we go about our days) the more we are reminded of these truths and the more we are able to stand firm in them.
Q: Out of all the stories you shared about how hymns have impacted our lives, which story was the most striking for you? And why?
"It is Well" was a really challenging hymn for me to write about. I've always loved this song, but my editor challenged me to specifically write about a time I experienced grief, because the author of the hymn, Horatio Spafford, wrote it after losing all four of his daughters when the ship they were traveling on went down. I had to go pretty deep into some pain from a loss, and wrestle with how we can sing, "It is Well," in the midst of our pain. But the conversations I had with God were so healing for me. He reminded me, and wants to remind anyone reading this, that the God of Angel Armies, the Creator of the Universe loves us fully! He'll comfort us in our pain, hold us tight when we're shaking, and love us through the worst things we can imagine.
Q: Can you recall a time when the Lord used a hymn to encourage you in your walk?
I think this year has been chaotic for the world. Between the pandemic, election, racial tension, etc. there is so much unrest, uneasiness, pain, and suffering. And I feel as if God specifically had me write this book for this time. The hymns continue to remind us to look to Jesus, to who He is, and find comfort there. As the hymn, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" states, Oh soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There's a light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.I love that! So in the midst of this season, I keep turning my eyes to Jesus. I keep looking at His light, His glory, His grace, and I find so much peace and joy there, even in the midst of the chaos. I hope everyone reading this will, too.
Q: What is next for you? What will you be writing about?
I'm currently working on some devotions to be included in a compilation with some other amazing writers in a book of encouragement for women and have a couple of other really exciting projects in the works I hope to be able to announce soon.
Visit www.laurasmithauthor.com to learn more.