Please join me in welcoming Laura L. Smith to the blog to chat about her upcoming book How Sweet the Sound!
Best-selling author and speaker Laura L. Smith 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. Smith loves all kinds of music, and although she can’t carry a tune, she’s often seen singing or dancing around her house. Smith speaks around the country sharing the love of Christ at conferences and events. She lives in the college town of Oxford, Ohio with her husband and four kids. Her newest title, How Sweet the Sound, releases in August.
HOW SWEET THE SOUND
PUBLISHER: Our Daily Bread Publishing
RELEASE DATE: August 4, 2020
There are few sweeter moments than hearing the voices of multiple generations singing together. . . . Hymns do that. They unite. Their cadence and lyrical depth have been instrumental in my journey of worshiping in Spirit and truth. How Sweet the Sound reminds Jesus followers of their powerful impact. —Holly Starr, Christian recording artist
How Sweet the Sound selects 30 beloved hymns and shares the lyrics to each hymn, an interesting modern-day story of how that hymn continues to impact lives, and questions for contemplation. Discover how hymns span generations—uniting us, freeing us, comforting us, and so much more. 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.
Do you miss listening to the sweet harmonies of hymns being sung in church? Do you recall precious life memories when a specific hymn encouraged your heart? Hymns will forever be God’s music packed with truth, redemption, and joy, no matter how the times or culture change. There is a reason they still speak to us, generation after generation. How Sweet the Sound marries the past with the present by showing how hymns unite, restore, and re-center God’s children.
Hi Laura! Welcome to the blog!
Laura: Summer! I am cold all of the time and crave sunshine. I love to sit in the sun, stretched out like a cat, and allow it to warm me.
Carrie: lol! I, on the other hand, am a mole and stay indoors at all times if possible LOL.
Laura: Coffee!!! Dark roast in the morning with two pumps of mocha and almond milk is my morning nectar!
Carrie: Ah the bliss of caffeine!
Laura: Ocean. All day long. I feel God there. The endless sea. The power of the waves. So mighty and enormous, yet so beautiful and peaceful. The combination of strength and gentleness combined gives me a beautiful reminder of how powerful and vast our God is, all the while tenderly loving us.
Carrie: While the mountains are my happy place, I totally agree with everything you said about the ocean too!
Laura: Print. I, of course, own a Kindle, and find them extremely handy for traveling, because you can bring countless e-books with you, and take up barely any room in your suitcase. But I love the sensory experience of holding a book, smelling the ink, feeling the weight of the pages. I also find myself underlining compelling passages, and although this is a feature on Kindle, it’s so much more satisfying to grab a brightly colored Sharpie Flair and make a mark on a page.
Carrie: so true!
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Laura: My superpower would be storytelling. I can’t give one-word answers, and I can’t tweet. I have too much to say! But I love to use the art of story in blogs, articles, books, and talks to remind people how much God loves us exactly as He made us.
Carrie: As a story addict myself, I love this so much! Yes!
Q: Tell me some good books you’ve read recently!
Laura: The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern. This is a gorgeous, sensory-filled fantasy about a hidden world stitched together by stories that has me itching to find a secret door that leads there. Garden City by John Mark Comer is a beautiful book about our vocations—what God has called us to do, and how to step into them fully and well.
Carrie: oooo how did I miss knowing about The Starless Sea??? To Goodreads!
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Laura: In my house I have a place lovingly referred to as my “writing nook.” It used to be our closet, but we converted it into a narrow office off of our bedroom. Since I designed it, one wall is covered in bookshelves, which are crammed with some of my favorite titles. It has hard wood floors (well, actually tile that looks and feels like wood, so it’s gorgeous but super easy to clean) and I painted the walls a dusty, lilac, because writing spaces should be pretty. My white built-in desk runs the length of the space and a giant window sits above my desk so I can peek out at woodpeckers or squirrels for inspiration.
Carrie: That sounds so pretty!! You had me at one wall covered in bookshelves 🙂
Q: What inspired you to write a book on hymns?
Laura: It was really a beautiful opportunity. My publisher wanted to do something with hymns, and I am a huge music lover. When the idea was presented to me, God literally started writing chapters in my head on how the old hymns can still impact us mightily today.
Carrie: I love that!
Q: Which hymn is your favorite?
Laura: “Amazing Grace.” Hands down. I cannot sing more than two lines (if that) without sobbing.
Carrie: I’m with you. That hymn is very special to me and my family.
Q: Of all the wonderful hymns in church history, how did you narrow down the list / select which 30 to feature?
Laura: Excellent question. We wanted to include the full lyrics of every hymn I chat about in the book. Immediately that narrowed down the hymns to ones that are public domain—not copyrighted. We wanted to use a diverse range of hymns, so you’ll find hymns from different denominations and origins spattered throughout. Some of the hymns are my absolute favorites, ones that resonate so deeply with me I had to include them. Others are more applicable. Meaning, each chapter takes on a real experience and applies the Biblical truth of a hymn on how Jesus heals, redeems, saves, encourages, strengthens, etc. us in those moments. Some hymns are the perfect songs to help us in times of grief, worry, or uncertainty, and I chose them for how they point us back to Jesus in those specific times.
Carrie: I imagine that was an overwhelming task at times – i can’t wait to read the book!
Q: What is something that surprised you the most while researching this book?
Laura: As I dug into the lyrics of so many of the old hymns it was awesome to see how many of our modern worship songs are pulled straight from these classics. The verses of “Cornerstone” by Hillsong United come straight from the hymn, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.” “Take My Life” by Chris Tomlin is simply a remake of “Take My Life and Let it Be” written in 1874 by Frances Havergal. “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Maher pulls its chorus from an old anonymous Baptist doxology titled, “Bless the Lord, O My Soul.” Those are just a few examples. The power of these hymns transcends time, because they are steeped in Scripture and spiritual truths. The connection between generations is so lovely to me. Jesus followers over the decades and even centuries turning to the Lord in song and singing some of the very same words to get closer to Jesus.
Carrie: Yes! Amen. I love modern worship songs but I also love the hymns we sang in church when I was growing up. I prefer a mix of both in worship and even better when one song combines the two. And this – “Jesus followers over the decades and even centuries turning to the Lord in song and singing some of the very same words to get closer to Jesus. ” – oh how i love that thought!
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from How Sweet the Sound?
Laura: I want readers to know that the grace, power, peace, joy, and strength of Jesus are all available to them right now, exactly where they are. They don’t have to wait until they get to heaven. They don’t have to do anything to earn gold stars. They are fully loved and adored by their Creator and He has beautiful plans for them. I want them to know that the old hymns still hum all of these truths in our ears, and that when we doubt, because we will doubt, the hymns are a beautiful tool for taking us back to the cross. They remind us who we are—beloved sons and daughters of the One True King.
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Laura: I am thrilled that How Sweet the Sound will release in August! I can’t wait for it to be in readers’ hands. I’m also working on a new book (always a thrill) and am gearing up to teach a new Bible study at my local church.
Laura L. Smith is offering a copy of her first novel, Skinny, to one of my readers! (continental US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What interests you most about How Sweet the Sound by Laura L. Smith? What’s your fave hymn?