Short Guide No 27: Hymns and Ministry to Those with Dementia

Ministering to people who have reached that stage of life when ‘mind and memory flee’[1] presents serious challenges which cannot be ignored. This short paper draws on the author’s experiences as a part-time Chaplain to a local hospital in which worship amongst geriatric patients (many of whom suffered from dementia) was conducted regularly (but informally) by clergy and volunteers from …

Short Guide No 25: Ordination and Commissioning Hymns

Ordinations and commissioning services happen in a variety of contexts, and are a cause of great celebration and spiritual power. Liturgies and traditions notwith-standing, the singing of hymns on these occasions plays a crucial role, and their selection is, therefore, not to be undertaken lightly. Approaches taken towards the discernment, vocation and formal commencement of a person’s authorised ministry vary …

Short Guide No 24: Confirmation Hymns

‘Confirmation’ covers various approaches to Christian initiation and commitment. When adults make a commitment and are received into membership of the church, the act of worship surrounding it can be a celebratory, evangelistic, sacramental expression of unity, and the hymns have a vital role to play in the blend of joy, hope and affirmation that a Confirmation should be. For …

Short Guide No 23: Baptism Hymns

Baptism can occur in different contexts and at different stages in life, yet the fundamental spiritual and ecclesiological purpose and outcome of such initiation is the same. Nevertheless, each context and understanding of baptism demands its own approach if they are going to be not only welcoming celebrations of commitment but opportunities to preach and sing the faith of Christ …

Short Guide No 22: Funeral Hymns

Christian funerals take place either in a church or at a crematorium or cemetery chapel. While the circumstances are different the issues surrounding the picking of hymns are similar. Hymn singing at funerals is in decline, so even greater care needs to be taken in using hymns to enhance the hope of a funeral, rather than increase the discomfort. As …

Short Guide No 21: Wedding Hymns

Many couples still choose to marry in church, yet the combined impact of more choice and the increasing lack of prior knowledge of hymnody has made it increasingly more difficult to accommodate their needs and desires with Christian integrity and wisdom. Tunes are the key to wedding hymns. Notwithstanding the decline in the number of couples choosing to marry in …

Short Guide No 20: Using Short Songs in Worship

The New Testament encourages believers to sing ‘Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’, suggesting the Body of Christ needs a range of sung material. As well as hymns, the imaginative use of short songs of various kinds can enrich worship; this paper explores the repertoire of shorter songs and suggests ways of incorporating them into services. Chorus is the name which …

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 …