Short Guide No 17: What are the Arguments For and Against Revising Hymn Texts?

‘Nothing changes here’ or ‘All the changing scenes’? Why would we ever ‘revise’ the words of familiar hymns? We do not change a Shakespeare sonnet or a Beatles song; but we do adopt new Bible versions and modify ancient prayers. In which category do our still-beloved hymns belong? Unlike poems, hymns are for singing together by churches which may be …

Short Guide No 16: What are the Relative Benefits of Hymn Books, Service Sheets or Projectors?

Developments in technology have expanded the range of ways in which hymns can be presented during a service. No longer is it automatically assumed that hymn and service books will be handed out at the door. Even where they are, the time will come to replace these books—and then other options can usefully be explored. Among other possibilities, two of …

Short Guide No 14: Building a Hymn Repertoire

Even with a single hymn book, a typical congregation probably has more hymns at their disposal than they can realistically use; add a supplementary book and access to online resources, and the choice rapidly becomes unmanageable. It is, however, possible to tap into these diverse sources and construct a workable repertoire for a congregation’s use. Here are some hints and …

Short Guide No 13: Using Hymns in All-Age Worship

Some services are designated as ‘all-age’. What does this imply? Ideally, all worship should be suitable for everyone in a worshipping community. ‘Our Father’ should mean what it says, without alienating people because of their age or cultural background. So, the term ‘all-age’ usually means a service for both adults and children, with a special emphasis on families. Content is …

Short Guide No 12: How can we Introduce New Hymns and Songs?

New hymns and songs can be introduced in a variety of ways, depending on both the style of the item to be taught and the musical resources available. Tunes with some repetition, or at least similar musical phrases, and a predictable rhythm will be the most easily learnt. Less memorable and more difficult ones will need a more carefully thought-out …

Short Guide No 10: What are the Pastoral Considerations when Using Hymns?

The pastoral use of hymns covers both the occasional offices of the church – baptism, weddings and funerals – but also those relating to healing and healing services. It is also necessary to examine the pastoral impact of hymns in ordinary and seasonal acts of worship. Here are some principles which may be applied in various contexts. Initially it is …

Short Guide No 9: Our Musical Resources are Limited; What Can We Sing?

Successful congregational singing entails careful, imaginative organisation. We need not emulate the local choral society but our singing must be the best we can offer; nothing less will be good enough. We tend to rely on instrumental support for our singing, but let’s start with using the voice. Unaccompanied singing can be highly effective. Opinions expressed in this paper are …

Short Guide No 8: How Can We Use the Psalms in Worship?

The Psalter is Scripture’s own hymn book; its contents speak to a vast range of human emotions and experiences. Therefore they should not be ignored. Traditionally the psalms have held an honoured place in Christian worship, but there is no universal agreement within the church as to how best or how often they should be used. Opinions expressed in this …