Hymn writing should be a spiritual practice for everyday saints, not just for worship professionals.

Anyone who has grown up in or around the church is likely familiar with “hymn stories”—the stories that surround the composition of some of our favorite songs of worship.

How many times have you heard the life of Horatio Spafford recounted before singing “It Is Well with My Soul”? How often has the slave-trading past of John Newton been told to give rich reality to the sweet strains of “Amazing Grace” (which is just over 250 years old!)?

The same can be said for number of other famous hymn writers throughout Christian history. We love to tell hymn stories because they remind us that every hymn is a prayer and that every prayer begins from the real faith of a real man or woman seeking God.

For the same reason, there has been a resurgence of interest in seeking God through various spiritual practices, especially in recent decades.

Popular books like Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love have challenged believers to consider the role of disciplined, habit-forming practices in spiritual growth and development. As a young Christian myself, I have watched my peers pick up practices like journaling, lectio divina, and prayers of examen as they seek to consistently practice the presence of God.

In the same way, I believe writing hymns should play a role in spiritual formation. And as I reflect on the role that hymn writing has played in my own life, I find that it has become a kind of spiritual practice—not merely an artistic enterprise but a simple and consistent way of responding to God.

I suspect that this was the case for many renowned hymn writers. Fanny Crosby wrote more than 9,000 hymns over the …

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