Person, Places, and things: Our favorite hymns

Anne Marie Amacher
Choir members sing during the Chrism Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport in this 2022 photo.

By Barb Arland-Fye

“Share your favorite hymn with me and your reason for choosing that hymn,” I asked our Catholic Messenger staff. The gift of song is “one of God’s greatest gifts to us,” the U.S. bishops say. “In


words and music, our ancestors in faith … have taught us to revel in God’s infinite love, proclaim his glory, give thanks for his abounding generosity, and plead for mercy and forgiveness” ( This column seems like a perfect place to share how God’s gift of song affects each of us.

“Since having children, ‘Gather Us In’ by Marty Haugen has become my favorite hymn. I remember singing it when I was a child,” says Lindsay Steele, our diocesan reporter and social media coordinator. “When I sing the hymn with my 6-year-old son next to me and my 1-year-old daughter in my arms, surrounded by family and the two sweet religious sisters who always sit behind us, I can’t help but feel sentimental. It’s a reminder that the Catholic faith is something that’s been passed down for generations in my family, and it’s special to be able to share the communal experience of Mass with my kids.”


Anne Marie Amacher, our assistant editor, says ‘“Amazing Grace’ is one of those songs that the congregation knows by heart and people put their hearts into singing out loud. It reminds us of God’s mercy and forgiveness. My all-time favorite version is ‘Amazing Grace’ (‘My Chains are Gone’) by the a cappella group Pentatonix. So inspiring.”

Duane Freund, our circulation/ business office coordinator, chose two favorite hymns: “Here I Am Lord,” by Dan Schutte and “On Eagle’s Wings” by Father Mike Joncas. “When I was in high school, I was part of Spirit, Inc. We practiced twice a week in the gymnasium of St. Vincent Center in Davenport and performed at area nursing homes for the residents and at the Festival of Trees, etc. One of the songs that we sang was ‘Here I Am, Lord.’ In addition to singing, we had a couple of members who knew sign language and signed the words of the song out front. Even today, some 30-plus years later, when we sing this at Mass it brings back fond memories of my time with the group. ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ was one of the songs sung at my mother’s funeral Mass. To this day, I get choked up when we sing this at Mass.”

Tony Forlini, our webmaster/ videographer, says his favorite song, for now, is “O God Beyond All Praising” (1982) by Michael Perry. “The hymn hits me due to the melody it takes from Gustav Holst’s “Thaxted” and Perry’s lyrics talking about adoration, blessings, mercy and a God beyond all praising. Some-times, I will check to see on YouTube if new recordings of it are available to compare with the older versions.”

“My favorite hymn is a choral piece I sang around 20 years ago,” says Phil Hart, our advertising representative. “It is from a verse in Isaiah (11: 6-9) and it has a great message and beautiful music. Go to YouTube and type in ‘Creation Will Be at Peace.’ You won’t be disappointed.”

Among my favorite hymns are “The God of All Grace” and “Spirit and Grace” by Father Ricky Manalo, a Paulist priest, liturgical composer, theologian and author, whose music reaches deep into my soul. Both hymns provided reassurance during the pandemic of God’s presence. Both hymns continue to inspire me on the faith journey.

What is your favorite hymn, and what makes it so meaningful to you? We’d love to share your responses in this column.

Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye (

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