Book Review: How Sweet the Sound by Laura L. Smith

Posted August 9, 2020 by meezcarrie in Christian, Laura L. Smith, nonfiction / 3 Comments

HOW SWEET THE SOUND: The Power and Promise of 30 Beloved Hymns
GENRE: Inspirational Nonfiction / Devotional
PUBLISHER: Our Daily Bread Publishing
RELEASE DATE: August 4, 2020
PAGES: 264

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.


“What if all of us ‘creatures here below’ focused on praising God above everything else, above our personal habits and styles and traditions?”

If I had to tell you what I would want in a book that focuses on 30 beloved hymns, How Sweet The Sound is exactly it. But I wouldn’t have been able to define it so specifically until after reading through this new release by Laura L. Smith.

There are plenty of books that have crossed my path over the years that tell the stories behind the hymns, with the theory that if we know what prompted the words we’ll better take them to heart. And while that probably does help to some extent (though the only one that’s stuck with me is It Is Well With My Soul), Smith’s approach takes this a step further and is much more to my preference. Instead, she dives into the meaning behind the words and how that should change not only the way we worship but also the way we live.

I loved the selection of hymns & only one was unfamiliar to me, easily solved by pulling it up on Amazon Music or Spotify. It turned my reading into a time of personal worship, as I was able to sing the hymns to God before I read the thoughts that follow each one, positioning my heart in a better place to hear Smith’s spiritual applications. There were also some new-to-me verses (and not just the 3rd verse that we inevitably never sang in the Southern Baptist churches I attended growing up haha), and I loved getting to pause and really reflect on each hymn. Smith’s writing after each hymn met me where I’m at in day to day life and challenged me to apply these beloved lyrics in ways I may not have picked up on before.

Probably the example of this that stood out to me the most was Be Thou My Vision – which Smith talks about in a chapter entitled “How Hymns Help Us Fight Our Battles”. This hymn was our class song at Asbury College (now University) back in the late 90s & I chose it as the processional at our wedding. Over the years the words have come to mean so much to me in various ways, but I couldn’t figure out how she got “helping us fight our battles” from it. And then I glanced at the lyrics that I’d mistakenly thought I certainly didn’t need to read for this one… and sure enough, there’s a verse that everyone always skips on the rare occasion that it’s sung in public worship – a verse I’d never read until that day. I won’t spoil it for you but I will say that I NEEDED that chapter and I won’t ever sing this hymn the same way.

Bottom Line: How Sweet the Sound is a must-read for anyone who grew up singing hymns or for people who are only familiar with the more modernized versions. Reading this book feels like sitting down with a dear friend for a chat, so refreshing and open is Smith’s writing style. We can readily identify with her personal stories, and the unity in worship that hymns bring is something we need more than ever. Easily accessible and sincere spiritual application further elevates this to one of the best books on hymns that I’ve ever read. Highly recommended!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 5 stars / Fabulous!!

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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.

Connect with her on Instagram @laurasmithauthor and at

What about you? What makes you want to read How Sweet The Sound by Laura L. Smith?

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3 responses to “Book Review: How Sweet the Sound by Laura L. Smith

  1. Judi Imperato

    I would love to read this book, I love singing the old hymns. I miss singing them in church.

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