80 Treasures


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In October 2016 we celebrated the 80th anniversary of The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. As a mark of this we are adding, over the coming months, an update to our 70th celebration of publishing 70 ‘Treasures’ from our past 70 years of The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland’s Bulletins with 10 more ‘Treasures’ from the Society’s archives.

We hope you enjoy reading these and the forthcoming articles.

Preface to the 80 Treasures – by Executive President – Ian Sharp


Ten years ago our Executive President, Alan Gaunt, introduced what were then 70 Treasures, articles taken from the pages of the Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. To celebrate our eightieth anniversary we have now expanded the selection to bring it up to date. Most of the material in our Bulletins is still in print, but the Executive Committee decided that it would be a good idea to search through past Bulletins to present these ‘treasures’ in a format which would make them readily available to everyone with an interest in hymns. You will find essays about hymnody, commentaries on texts and tunes, articles about individual hymn writers and hymnologists, reviews of publications, and much more. We hope that readers will find their interest stimulated and be inspired to think again about the place of hymnody in the life and witness of the Church.

The Society’s webpages give an indication of our on-going commitment to our original aims. 80 years on, we are still very much aware that ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ constitute a unique treasury of resources, a treasury which has the potential to enrich our worship and our lives. So, enjoy delving into the pages of these 80 Treasures!



Introduction to the 70 Treasures – David R Wright

The purpose of this re-publication of articles from the Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland is:

  • to fulfil the 4 aims of The Hymn Society
  • to make our collected wisdom available worldwide
  • to raise the profile of hymns and of The Hymn Society
  • to celebrate the 70th birthday of The Hymn Society.

These bulletins provide a unique record of the story of hymns and hymnbooks – but very few people have had access to these articles until now. By placing key articles from each decade on this website, they can now be read by people throughout the world. The selection of articles for re-publication has been undertaken by eight members of the Hymn Society – one for each decade. Every sub-editor has had an ‘embarras de richesses’ from which to choose. We have chosen concise articles, on major themes of continuing relevance – but there are many other articles which deserve to be republished. We may add more articles at a later date – please revisit this website from time to time. The project also gives an opportunity to reflect on the distinctiveness and strengths of the Bulletin. The Hymn Society has been very fortunate in its choice of editors: they have shown wisdom and discernment, firm faith and broad sympathies, and the rare gift of not taking themselves too seriously. The current editor – a Methodist – was appointed in 2004; he is only the fifth editor in 70 years. The first editor was from the Church of Scotland [Presbyterian]; two editors were from the Congregational Church [now the United Reformed Church]; one was from the Church of England. Articles in the Bulletin have covered a wide variety of topics, as the selection on this website illustrates. Many articles defy classification – indeed, the unexpected nature of the contents of each issue is one of the joys of receiving the Bulletin four times a year. Among the types of article can be found the following broad categories:

  • study of a well-known hymnwriter;
  • research into little-known or forgotten hymnwriters;
  • study of hymns of a small denomination [e.g., Moravians; Plymouth Brethren];
  • “where are hymns going?” – from conservative and liberal perspectives;
  • the process of hymn-writing;
  • “hymns on my travels” – word-pictures of the variety of contexts and styles in which hymns are sung;
  • controversial issues in hymnody;
  • hymns as literature;
  • revision of hymn words;
  • hymns in an international context.

Plus there are reviews, obituaries, and conference reports.
Another list of articles about aspects of hymn-tunes could also be drawn up.
We all hope you find these articles interesting and helpful.




Treasure 01. The Society and its aims ~ An article from Bulletin No 1, October 1937
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Treasure 02. A New Hymn-Book in Prospect ~ An article from Bulletin No 3, April 1938
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Treasure 03. The War and the Society ~ An article from Bulletin No 9, October 1939
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Treasure 04. The Criticisms of ‘Songs of Praise’ by G.W. Briggs ~ An article from Bulletin No. 14, January 1941, p. 1
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Treasure 05. The New Nazi Hymn Book by Millar Patrick ~ An article from Bulletin No. 20, July 1942, p. 3
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Treasure 06. Hymns and No-Hymns by George Sampson ~ An article from Bulletin No. 29, October 1944, p. 1
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Treasure 07. The Hymnal’ 1940 by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin No. 34, January 1946, p. 2
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Treasure 08. The Hymn As A Literary Form by V. M. Caird ~ An article from Bulletin No. 38, January 1947, p. 1
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Treasure 09. English Hymnal’ and ‘Ancient and Modern’ by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin No. 38, January 1947, p. 9
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Treasure 10. Hymns On The Air by Cyril Taylor ~ An article from Bulletin No. 41, October 1947, p. 1
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Treasure 11. ‘Blest Pair Of Sirens’ by V.M. Caird ~ An article from Bulletin No. 41, October 1947, p. 6
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Treasure 12. Victorian Hymn Composers III Henry John Gauntlett, 1805-76 by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin No. 46, January 1949, p. 75
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Treasure 13. Julian’ by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin No. 48, July 1949, p. 97
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Treasure 14. The Tercentenary of the Scottish Psalter ~ An article from Bulletin 53, October 1950, p. 77
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Treasure 15. Joseph Hart, 1712-68 by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin 54, January 1951, p. 196
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Treasure 16. Scottish Hymn Books Antecedent to the Church Hymnary ~ An article from Bulletin 61, October 1952, p. 58
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Treasure 17. What Makes a Good Hymn? by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin 63, Spring 1953, p. 90
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Treasure 18. Robert Bridges, Hymn Writer by R. A. Moody ~ An article from Bulletin 67 Spring 1954, p. 157
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Treasure 19. Hymns and Youth by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin 71, Spring 1955, p. 222
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Treasure 20. The New Song (A Sermon) by T. W. Poole ~ An article from Bulletin 77, Autumn 1956, p. 53
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Treasure 21. A Link With Loys Bourgeois by J. Wilson ~ An article from Bulletin 79, Summer 1957, p. 91
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Treasure 22. The Moravian Associations of Charles Wesley’s Hymns by A. S. Gregory ~ An article from Bulletin 82, Spring 1958, p. 135
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Treasure 23. Charles Steggall by A. K, Blackall ~ An article from Bulletin 87, Winter 1959, p. 220
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Treasure 24. The Rich Man in His Castles by Maurice Frost ~ An article from Bulletin 93, Autumn 1961, p. 76, also Correspondence ~ Bulletin 94, Winter 1961, p. 90
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Treasure 25. Jesus Shall Reign’ – a Matter of Punctuation by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin 95, Spring 1962, p. 105
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Treasure 26. Some Useful Dates by Andrew Hayden ~ An article from Bulletin 99, Winter 1963, p. 186
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Treasure 27. What Shall They Sing by J. T. Slater ~ An article from Bulletin 100, Spring 1964, p. 205
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Treasure 28. Bad Poetry or Good Light Verse? by Norman Nicolson ~ An article from Bulletin 101, Autumn 1964, p. 220
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Treasure 29. A Valuable Bibliography ~ An article from Bulletin 102. January 1965, p. 256
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Treasure 30. To follow

Treasure 31. Correspondence between H. W. Baker and J. B. Dykes ~ An article from Bulletin 103, Spring 1965, p. 1
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Treasure 32. Hymns in School Worship by Donald Hughes ~ An article from Bulletin 104, September 1965, p. 36
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Treasure 33. ‘100 Hymns for Today’ by Alan Luff ~ An article from Bulletin 117, Autumn 1969, p. 51
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Treasure 34. Veni, veni Emmanuel by C. Pocknee ~ An article from Bulletin 118, Spring 1970, p. 65
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Treasure 35. Hymn writing today by F. Pratt Green ~ An article from Bulletin 120, January 1971, p. 122
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Treasure 36. Hymnody in the Eastern churches by C. Pocknee ~ An article from Bulletin 123, January 1972, p. 16
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Treasure 37. Two Notes from Scotland 1 Amazing Grace by M. Dickie ~ An article from Bulletin 125, Winter 1972 p. 21
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Treasure 38. Young People and Hymns by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin, 127, Summer 1973 p. 1
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Treasure 39. The Titanic Hymn by R. Johnson ~ An article from Bulletin, 129, Winter 1974, p. 54
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Treasure 40. Easter Joy by A. Luff ~ An article from Bulletin, 134, Autumn 1975, p. 131
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Treasure 41. What’s new from America by Erik Routley ~ An article from Bulletin, 135, Winter 1976 p. 152
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Treasure 42. The Hymn Today ~ An article from Bulletin 138, Winter 1977 p. 197
i. The Challenge of the Words by Brian Wren
ii. The Challenge of the Music by John Wilson
iii. The Art of the Possible by Alan Luff
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Treasure 43. Genesis of a Hymn by Brian Wren ~ An article from Bulletin 143, Autumn 1978, p. 39
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Treasure 44. Frances Ridley Havergal A Centenary Tribute by R. Newton ~ An article from Bulletin, 146, Autumn 1979, p. 101
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Treasure 45. The Secularization of the Victorian Hymn by L. Adey ~ An article from Bulletin 147, Winter 1980, p. 116
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Treasure 46. The Tune LASST UNS ERFREUEN As We Know It by J. Wilson ~ An article from Bulletin 150, Winter 1981, p. 194
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Treasure 47. I Vow To Thee My Country by E. James ~ An article from Bulletin 153, Winter 1982 p. 1
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Treasure 48. Pastoral Revision of Hymns by M. Perry ~ An article from Bulletin 156, Winter 1983, p. 96
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Treasure 49. The Hymn Tunes of Elgar and Holst by B. Massey ~ An article from Bulletin 160, Summer 1984, p. 185
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Treasure 50. What Makes a Good Hymn Text? by T. Dudley-Smith ~ An article from Bulletin 163, Summer 1985 p. 22
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Treasure 51. The Rock Whence we are Hewn by C. Taylor ~ An article from Bulletin 166, Winter 1986, p. 94
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Treasure 52. Barratt, His Successors and the Quality of Faith by A. Gaunt ~ An article from Bulletin 173, Autumn 1987, p. 265
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Treasure 53. English and German Hymnody, Imports and Exports by R. Leaver ~ An article from Bulletin 177, Autumn 1988, p. 62
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Treasure 54. Copyright in Relation to Hymnody by B. Braley ~ An article from Bulletin 179, Spring 1989 p. 100
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Treasure 55. Hymns in the Early Church by J. Ferguson ~ An article from Bulletin 180, Summer 1989, p. 114
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Treasure 56. Ten Golden Rules by John Bell ~ An article from Bulletin 185, Autumn 1990, p. 236
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Treasure 57. Walking by Faith by Alan Luff ~ An article from Bulletin 187, Spring 1991, p. 22
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Treasure 58. John Wilson, 1905–92 by Alan Luff and B. Massey ~ An article from Bulletin 193, Autumn 1992, p. 158
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Treasure 59. The Charming Sound of 18th-Century Hymnody by J. R. Watson ~ An article from Bulletin 197, Autumn 1993, p. 263
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Treasure 60. Childhood and the Christian hymn by Ian Sharp ~ An article from Bulletin 199, Spring 1994, p. 38
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Treasure 61. To the Budding Hymnwriter by Brian Wren ~ An article from Bulletin 202, Winter 1995, p. 130
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Treasure 62. Ten Laws of Hymnal Committees by Christopher Idle ~ An article from Bulletin 208, Summer 1996, p. 246
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Treasure 63. The Hymnologist’s Bookshelf by B. Massey ~ An article from Bulletin 211, Spring 1997, p. 26
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Treasure 64. The English Hymn (review) by Elizabeth Cosnett ~ An article from Bulletin 214, Winter 1998, p. 113
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Treasure 65. Hymnody and Belonging by Graham Deans ~ An article from Bulletin 220, Summer 1999, p. 230 and Bulletin 221 Autumn 1999, p. 254
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Treasure 66. Farewell to the Twentieth Century by J. R. Watson ~ An article from Bulletin 223, April 2000, p. 50
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Treasure 67. Mrs Alexander by Valerie Wallace ~ An article from Bulletin 227, April 2001, p. 159
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Treasure 68. When Words Call the Tune by Ian Sharp ~ An article from Bulletin 233, October 2002, p. 287
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Treasure 69. A Few Thoughts on Hymn Writing by Alison Robertson ~ An article from Bulletin 235, April 2003, p. 37
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Treasure 70. Hymns and Literature – Form and Interpretation by J. R. Watson ~ An article from Bulletin 238, January 2004, p. 126
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Treasure No 71: Peace and War in Hymns by David Wright ~ An article from Bulletin 245, October 2005 p. 320
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Treasure No 72: What are we saying by singing? By Rowan Williams ~ An article from Bulletin 249, October 2006 p. 104
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Treasure No 73: Healing the Nations: Fred Kaan The Man and his Hymns by Gillian Warson, Stainer & Bell Ltd. 115 pp £9.50 ISBN 0-85249-889-6 by Alan Gaunt ~ A Book Review from Bulletin 251, March 2007 p. 199
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Treasure No 74: Geoffrey Beaumont and the 20th Century Church Light Music Group – A Recognition of their Contribution to Contemporary Hymnody by Simon Parry ~ An article from Bulletin 256, July 2008 p. 396
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Treasure No 75: The Price of Sin by Leslie Ivory ~ An article from Bulletin 258, October 2008 p. 17
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