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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
224 pages
Sep 2010
Beacon Hill Press

The Words We Sing: Bringing Meaning to Worship

by Nan Corbitt Allen

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


The Words We Sing by Nan Corbitt Allen is a glossary of words or phrases frequently found in worship songs. This small book covers everything from “Abba” to “Zion.” So, for anyone who has wondered what it means to raise an Ebenezer, look no further. As a three-time Dove Award winner, Allen recognizes the importance of lyrics. She points out that words are vital in the Christian music industry, which is defined by content rather than style. In the Introduction, Allen cautions readers to think about the meaning behind lyrics and to let them sink in instead of just mouthing them.

The book is alphabetized and cross-referenced. For every word or phrase, Allen includes the lyrics of a song that incorporates it. Short reflections from songwriters interspersed throughout the book keep it from feeling like a dictionary. When possible, Allen incorporates Bible verses to help illuminate words or phrases. For example, under “Peace,” she cites Isaiah 26:3, which states, “You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” For words that have changed meanings over time, she also includes their evolution.

The Words We Sing is a great tool, especially for worship leaders, although some of the song references may be lost on anyone who wasn’t listening to inspirational music in the ‘80s. It isn’t a good choice for a casual reader, but for people who truly want to know the meaning behind what they sing, this book is extremely helpful. – Andrea Walker,

Book Jacket:

Though there are various genres of music—country, rap, rock, and pop, to name a few—the Christian music genre is the only genre defined by its lyric. But, how understanding are we as we write, sing, and lead others in worship with these words?

The Words We Sing is an exploration of 49 words and phrases found in both modern worship songs and hymns written years—even centuries—ago. With insight and inspiration, author Nan Corbitt Allen identifies the definition, biblical context, and historical background that make each term come to life with power and meaning. Through Allen's refreshing take on these lyrics, readers will find themselves immersed in the struggles and stories behind the words we sing.