"This collection of essays takes the study of hymnody into the broader context of American religious life. Unlike traditional hymnological studies, the present work examines nonmusical aspects of hymns in order to gain a better understanding of the religious, social, cultural, and political lives of Americans from the 17th century to the present. The 11 essays are presented in three sections. The first section includes historical studies of three well-known hymns and how they reflect developments and changes in religious beliefs. For example, D. Bruce Hindmarsh's history of 'Amazing Grace' is an intriguing account of how the text of the hymn evolved in reaction to changing biblical theology and its 20th-century role in a secular context. The second section contains four essays that explore hymnbooks as cultural icons. These contributions include studies on textual editing, the role of editors, and, perhaps most interestingly, a study of hymnal indexes in determining styles of evangelizing. The final section examines social and cultural aspects of American Protestantism in the 19th century through hymns. The collection is a breakthrough contribution to the study of hymnology.Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels."CHOICE "