Leslie Clay had no idea that her interest in women hymn writers would grow from its beginnings of a church program all the way to a published book, but that is exactly what happened. Sisters in Song: Women Hymn Writers (AKA-Publishing, 2013) is a compendium of biographies – one per author – that describes the life behind and occasion of so many well-known hymns. It’s a page-turner and though you might want to use the book devotionally, a hymn a day, it is hard to not keep reading.
One of my favorite stories as shared by Leslie is that of Elizabeth Cecelia Douglas Clephane. “Sunbeam” as they called her had a life of great losses and adversity, but her positive faith served as an inspiration for many. One afternoon as she meditated on the meaning of Christ’s passion, the words of Beneath the Cross of Jesus came to her:
“These verses gave her the vision for the poem to say what Christ meant to her. It was written for her eyes only and stored away. After her death, her family found her poems and published then in 1872. She never heard any of the eight hymns she wrote sung nor did she see them in print.”(30)
For those who love hymnody, especially that fruitful era for women beginning in the 18th century and moving to present, this is a book that will delight. And it is available now on Amazon. Best get more than one copy because in addition to your own copy you will want to slip it into many Christmas stockings this holiday season.