Brief Book Review: Breath of Christ

Breath of Christ: Hymn Texts by Alan Hommerding
by Alan Hommerding

Why should you read this? Alan’s gift as a text writer is evident in every selection in the collection, providing provocative, fresh and robust text for sung prayer.

Why is this book useful / practical? Detailed indices arrange the variety of topical texts by Composer, Tune, Meter, and Title/First Lines, allowing great accessibility to each work in the collection.

What will most inspire you? Alan provides background information for each text, grounding the work in a lived reality of ministry, liturgical prayer and authentic encounter with the ever-living God.

Kudos: There is no doubt that Alan writes magnificent texts, and Breath of Christ proves that the author of “From Ashes to the Living Font” has more textual treasures to share. Self-descried as a “catechist with a rhyming dictionary,” Alan’s commitment to text is grounded in the Paschal Mystery. At a time where some contemporary texts offer questionable theology, Alan’s work gives hope that that the text of sung prayer remains an important vehicle for the theological formation of worshiping communities.

In addition to his theology, Alan’s texts showcase his versatility as an author. Breath of Christ contains traditional metered text, verse/refrain selections, and even a number of Acrostic texts. My favorite part of the collection, however, is the inclusion of a diverse group of hymn writers. Breath of Christ contains hymn tunes from 38 sources, including works by a number of women composers. I wish more hymn text collections would take this diversity into consideration.

Implications: After encountering Alan’s new collection, I immediately decided that I must use some of these texts in my own work as a music minister. Members of my community have commented on the depth and richness of Alan’s texts, and I anticipate using more of them in the future. I strongly recommend that music ministers, liturgists, presiders, and publishers utilize Alan’s Breath of Christ to its fullest potential.

Hommerding, Alan. Breath of Christ: Hymn Texts by Alan Hommerding. Franklin Park, IL: World Library Publications, 2019. 128 pages, perfect-bound.


John Kyler serves as Editor for Liturgy and Music at Liturgical Press in Collegeville, MN and Director of Liturgy and Music for Campus Ministry at Saint John’s University. In addition to experience working in parish faith formation and high school and collegiate campus ministry, John is an active liturgical musician, composer, and speaker, focusing on the intersection of liturgy, justice and healthy vulnerability in pastoral ministry. John holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame and is a Master of Theological Studies in Liturgy degree candidate at Saint John’s University.


  1. Might I please ask if you could also provide an ISBN number with book reviews? It really does make ordering books a lot easier and far more accurate. It also stops the Sisters of St. Paul beating me up when I go to order from them.

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