The Hymn Society Bulletin
Act of Praise – Leicester 2002
Hark the Glad Sound
‘ere God had Built the Mountains
Our Father God, Thy Name We Praise
God of Love and Truth and Beauty
Lord for the Years
Anthem: Drop, Drop, Slow Tears
Take my Gifts and Let Me Love You
Come Lord, to our Souls Come Down
For Riches of Salvation
As With Gladness Men of Old
Anthem: Save us, O Lord, waking
Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken
Act of Praise, Leicester 2002 by Martin Ellis
With this issue of the Bulletin comes a copy of the booklet used at Bishop Street Methodist Church during our Leicester Conference in July. More or less as presented, Martin Ellis has kindly provided this account of the event and his commentary.
Welcome to all those who are not members of the Society who are joining us for the first time. In our Act of Praise, which comes as a central part of every Annual Conference, we include hymns on subjects which have been presented in this two-day gathering as well as those which help us to acknowledge centenaries or specific anniversaries.
God of history, we give you thanks for all that is past; for your love to us through Jesus; for the power of the Spirit seen in the lives and actions of Christian men and women who have inspired future generations to keep the Faith.
God of the present; help us in this our day and age to make our faith fearlessly relevant in the world around us.
God of the future; enlarge our vision and through us inspire future generations to live and proclaim the immensity of your love for humankind. Amen
Hark the Glad Sound, Philip Doddridge; Tune: BRISTOL; Melody: Thomas Ravencroft’s Psalms 1621
Philip Doddridge was born three hundred years ago on 26 June 1702 in London, the son of a merchant. He was educated at Kibworth Academy which, in 1722, moved to Hinckley in this county of Leicestershire. A year later in 1723 he became a minister, serving first in Leicestershire before, in 1729 moving to Northampton as the minister of the Congregational Meeting at Castle Hill. Amongst his claims to fame was the fact that he raised a militia in 1745 to defend Northampton against the possible attack by the Jacobites.
Hark the glad sound appeared in his Manuscripts dated ‘Dec 28, 1735’ and is headed ‘Christ’s Message, from Luke iv: 18 – 19’
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
Because he has anointed me;
He has sent me to announce good news to the poor,
To proclaim release for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind;
To let the broken victims go free,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Verse 1 presents the context of the hymn – Jesus returns to Galillee – to Nazareth. Reference is made to the parent text from Luke 4 in Isaiah 61, especially in verses 7 and 8, from whence comes line 1 in stanza 4 which we shall mercifully omit this evening. Verse 6 of the hymn refers to the Book of Leviticus 25: 9—10
And in the seventh month on the tenth day of the month, on the Day of Atonement, you are to send the ram’s horn throughout your land to sound a blast. Hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberation in the land for all its inhabitants. It is to be a jubilee year for you…
The tune BRISTOL appeared in Ravenscroft’s The Whole Book of Psalms with the Hymnes Evangelical and the Songs Spirituall 1621. The association with these words began in Hymns Ancient and Modern 1861.
We are grateful to Richard Archer, our musical director this evening, for the descant that he has provided for this occasion.
‘ere God had Built the Mountains, William Cowper; Tune: ES GLOG EIN KLEINS 17th Century German WALDVOGELEIN; Traditional Melody
It is good in this day and age to sing hymns that make us engage our imaginations as well as our full intellect, based on a text from Proverbs 8: 22 — 31:
The Lord created me the first of his works long ago before all else that he made.
I was formed in earliest times, at the beginning, before the earth itself.
I was born when there was yet no ocean, when there were no springs brimming with water.
Before the mountains were settled in their place, before the hills I was born, when as yet he had made neither land nor streams nor the mass of the earth’s soil.
When he set the heavens in place I was there, when he girdled the ocean with horizon, when he fixed the canopy of clouds overhead and confined the springs of the deep, when he prescribed limits for the sea so that the waters do not transgress his command, when he made the foundations firm.
Then I was at his side each day, his darling and delight, playing in his presence continually, playing over his whole world while my delight was in mankind.
William Cowper might have become the Clerk to the House of Commons had it not been for a severe nervous breakdown. The rest of his life was marred by depression and illness. He retreated to the country and at Olney where he settled he came under the influence of the Revd John Newton who was the curate in that place. In 1779 a collection for ever known as the Olney Hymns first appeared. There were 280 hymns in the book which was intended for use at the weekly prayer meetings at Olney. Out of the 280 texts Cowper contributed 68.
Our tune this evening first appeared in England in Songs of Syon 1910 in a version harmonised by George Ratcliffe Woodward of ‘Ding dong merrily’ and ‘Past three o’clock’, fame. Walford Davies harmonised it for A Student’s Hymnal 1923 but the present version is taken from Hymns for Church and School 1964.
Our Father God, Thy Name We Praise, Trans. Ernest A Payne; Tune: PALACE GREEN Michael Fleming
We celebrate the centenary of one of the great Baptist ministers of the twentieth century — Ernest A Payne — who was secretary of the Baptist Union for many years. The text of this hymn is a free translation of the Lord’s Prayer from the Anabaptist Ausbund. Entitled Das Lobegesang — Song of Praise — it is apparently still sung as the second hymn every Sunday by the Amish Mennonites in Pennsylvania.
The tune PALACE GREEN was written by Michael Fleming for the words Sing praise to God and is found at AMNS 1983 to those words. The name Palace Green refers to the area of that name in Durham — it is a magnificent tune which deserves to be more widely used in this metre.
God of Love and Truth and Beauty, Timothy Rees; TUNE: CAROLYN Herbert Murrill
Born in London in May 1909, Herbert Murrill studied at the RAM and went up as Organ Scholar to Worcester College, Oxford in 1928. He returned to the RAM as Professor of Composition in 1933. In 1936 he joined the BBC and rose to the position of Head of Music two years before his untimely death in 1952. Most of his compositions were in the realms of theatre and the orchestra. The contribution of a superbly crafted setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in E in 1947 was outstanding in the realms of music for the church.
The tune CAROLYN named after his daughter was composed at the request of the compilers of the BBC Hymn Book (1951) and was published for the first time in that collection. It has become totally wedded to Bishop Timothy Rees’s text, which is an unusual metre. Timothy Rees was Warden of the Mirfield Community from 1922 to 1928 of which community he had been a member since 1907. Some of his hymns, and this is one of that number, appear in the Mirfield Hymn Book of 1922.
Lord, for the Years, Timothy Dudley-Smith; Tune: LORD OF THE YEARS Michael Baughen arr. David lliff
Bishop Dudley-Smith recalls in his collection Lift Every Heart (1984) the centenary celebratory service in 1967 of the Scripture Union in St Paul’s Cathedral when the hymn we are about to sing was sung to the tune FINLANDIA! — because it was available with orchestral parts. In the last 35 years we have become used to its union with Michael Baughen’s tune of the same name. In the 1960’s Bishop Baughen and Bishop Dudley-Smith worked together on the staff of The Church Pastoral Aid Society. Youth Praise 1 and 2 were published in 1966 and 1969. This hymn appeared in the second volume together with the tune.
The extra verse has been written to be sung in this Jubilee Year only. As a matter of interest note the third line of verse 3. Perhaps it was not quite right to address God as you in 1967 — hence the use of the word him. Some books have surreptitiously changed it to you — however, we shall sing as it was written.
Anthem: Drop, Drop Slow Tears, Ben Burrows 1891-1966
We are grateful to Richard Archer for the trouble that he has taken over the musical arrangements for this evening’s Act of Praise. We thank him and the organist — Martin Briers — as well as the members of our choir.
When I was a student in the 1960’s the name of Dr Ben Burrows was synonymously connected with the help he gave thousands of candidates for RCO Diploma examinations and external University Degree paperwork through correspondence courses. He lived in this city and we celebrate him this evening as the Choir sings the Anthem.
Take my Gifts and Let Me Love You, Shirley Erena Murray; Tune: TALVERNA TERRACE Colin Gibson
I just love this next hymn and tune — Why? because of the last four lines in the second verse:
Spiced with humour, laced with laughter —
flavour of the Jesus life,
tang of risk and new adventure,
taste and zest beyond belief.
It reminds me of Issac Watts’ lines:
Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less.
A sense of humour is essential in the living out of our faith.
Shirley Erena Murray was born in 1931 in New Zealand. She has written a large corpus of hymns which express, both in their total use of inclusive language and imagery, a unique relevance to the Gospel in this day and age. Some of her texts are specifically written with their use in the southern hemisphere in mind.
Professor Colin Gibson and Shirley Erena Murray were both involved in the compilation of the New Zealand Hymn Book which appeared in 1990 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of that nation. This hymn and tune engender sheer fun in any service of worship and especially the Eucharist.
Come, Lord, to Our Souls Come Down, HCA Gaunt; TUNE: VENI, DOMINI Late 17th Century German Melody arr. John Wilson
Howard Charles Adie Gaunt — Tom to his friends and colleagues — taught for 35 years in some of our leading independent schools in this land before becoming Sacristan and then Precentor of Winchester Cathedral. As a hymn writer his work only came to light in 1969 upon the publication of 100 Hymns for Today.
This hymn was included in that collection. The compilers of Hymns and Psalms 1983 wisely included this charming arrangement by the ever-wise John Wilson. It is a perfect match of hymn and tune for use at the Gradual in the Eucharist.
For Riches of Salvation, Martin E Leckebusch; Tune: BURGESS HILL Ian Sharp
Martin Leckebusch describes this as a wide ranging hymn on the subject of thanksgiving. He points out that he had never heard of Fred Pratt Green’s For the fruits of his creation before writing this text. Martin believes that he write it in the 1980’s when he was attending a lively Methodist Church in Edgbaston, Birmingham, with the most extraordinary outreach into the surrounding community. The text is superficially litanical in construction with the repetitive line – ‘give thanks to the Lord’ acting like a congregational response.
Ian Sharp informs me that his grandfather was the Organist of the Parish Church in Burgess Hill in West Sussex. Here is a first class match of words and music.
As With Gladness Men of Old, William Chatterton Dix; Tune: ORIENT Charles Villiers Stanford
I dread the season of Epiphany and avoid the choosing of our next hymn like the plague – Why? because of that characterless ditty — the tune DIX. Hooray for Charles Villiers Stanford, for tonight we return to the tune with which this hymn was accompanied in the 1933 MHB. Stanford was synonymously associated with the music of the Church although his orchestral, chamber and secular choral music are, in some cases, of a higher calibre. Who could possibly forget Beati quorum via written for Grace on Gaudy days in the Hall of his Cambridge college – Trinity where he served with distinction as Organist for 20 years, or the sublime part-song the Bluebird or the Clarinet Sonata.
ORIENT first appeared in the collection published by Novello in 1894 – Christmas Carols. It was written in the same year as his finest work for the Organ, Fantasia and Toccata in D minor (Op. 57), and the tune later appeared in The Westminster Abbey Tune Book.
By the way, I am proud of the fact that Charles Stanford was married in the Parish Church in the village of Ockley, close to our home in Dorking, in April 1875. Alan Gray, Stanford’s successor at Trinity Cambridge, played the organ and the great violinist Joseph Joachim was present in the congregation. This underlines their common friendship with the great Brahms whose influence is seen throughout Stanford’s compositions.
Anthem Save us, O Lord, waking, Edward Bairstow (1874-1946)
Of a generation younger than Charles Stanford, Edward Cuthbert Bairstow was a force to be reckoned with in music of the first half of this century. He was an outstanding Organist and Master of the Choristers for 33 years at York Minster and the Professor of Music in the University of Durham. This setting of the hymn in the Service of Compline was written a hundred years ago when the composer was the Organist of Wigan Parish Church.
As we come to the close of our Act of Praise this evening we would like to express our thanks to the Minister and the Stewards of Bishop Street Methodist Church. Our thanks too, to Bernard Massey and to Joyce Horn for their joint production of our Act of Praise booklet.
We give you thanks, O God our Father, for all those who have, over many generations, assisted us to sing your praises through the written word or the gift of melody. We pray this evening that with your help we may all fulfill our life’s potential by the correct use of all the gifts and talents that we have received from you. These prayers we ask in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us when we pray to say
Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken, John Newton; Tune: ABBOT’S LEIGH Cyril Taylor
In the little commentary on the two Supplements to AMR Cyril Taylor, who was the author of the book and the composer of our final tune, writes:
Having been responsible for the tune, may I say two things about it?
- People have assured me that when I wrote it in May 1941, it was in response to feelings of disgust expressed in some letters to the BBC’s Religious Broadcasting Department that we should go on using a German tune not only for ‘Praise the Lord ye heavens, adore him’, but also for ‘Glorious things’. I can only say that I do not remember saying to myself that I must see if I can do something about this, but I remember the letters, and I suppose the idea of providing for any rate the second of the two hymns may have been floating round somewhere underneath, and on one Sunday morning in 1941 rose to the surface.
- Please make a real effort to sing the third melody note from the end as D, not F sharp. It’s much better that way!
Those of us who remember Cyril with great affection will know how typically unassuming these comments are. ABBOT’S LEIGH has become one of the best-loved hymn tunes of the twentieth century. There is no better way to end our Act of Praise than by singing it to one of the classics of all hymnody — Newton’s Glorious things of thee of spoken. We shall omit verse 3 and the choir will sing John Wilson’s magnificent descant to verse 4 as indicated.
After the hymn we shall remain standing to say the Grace.
On attending the Annual Conference for the first time by Michael JonesI seem to have sung hymns all my life, first as a very small child from the Church and School Hymnal and then from the age of seven as a member of my local church choir which was definately ‘A&M’. My father used to play hymns at the end of the day; his father, when called upon to play the piano for musical chairs at his grandson’s birthday parties, was able to offer only There is a green hill far away’. So I imbibed a love of hymns from a very early age. It was the tunes I liked best.
Many years later I attended a service at St James’s Piccadilly where the vicar Donald Reeves introduced one of Mrs Alexander’s hymns with a few biographical details. I thought, ‘How interesting’; and began to look for more explanations about the background to hymns. I alighted on Frank Colquhoun’s A Hymn Companion and I was off.
Being a Reader in Peterborough Diocese I took a fair number of services in a year and I began to introduce the hymns with a few words about the author and composer. Invariably, someone would come up afterwards and say how much they had enjoyed what I had said. The sweat of the sermon went unremarked, but the few words about the hymns were a different kettle of fish. Sometimes people would claim relationship with an author, or tell me they had been in the choir when so-and-so was Dean.
I began to realise how woefully ignorant we all were about the hymns we sang, and how we were losing an opportunity to cement some great truths into our minds if only we committed them to memory. I began to thirst for more knowledge, and then one day a letter appeared in ‘The Times’ from someone connected with the Hymn Society. That’s for me, I thought; I wrote for the address, quickly joined, and began to enjoy the Bulletin. But when it came to the Conference I felt that I would not dare to show my face among such erudite folk, so I failed to attend for about eight years.
Then in 2001 my wife encouraged me to attend and said she would come along for the ride. We went together to Leeds and had such a splendid, informative and, dare I write it, uplifting time, that we immediately put Leicester in our diaries and now of course Canterbury.
To meet people who write words and music that I had sung and used as prayers was a special experience. They of course made no song and dance about their efforts. They just shone with the fact that they were using the talents God had given them. To listen to lectures from people who were masters of their subjects, and those subjects which had been part of my life for seventy years, was informative and inspiring. To be part of the morning services, and the Act of Praise, was a real tonic.
So thank you to all those good people who give of their time to make the society such a good one. By the way, in connection with the Leicester conference, when much was made of the Olney links, may I write as someone who has lived all his life within twelve miles of that fair town that I have only ever heard it called ‘Owe-knee’.
Singing for children by Gillian Warson
The following article is an adaptation of the paper I gave at the Hymn Society Conference in Leicester 2002. The presentation itself was illustrated using a video clip and numerous illustrations, and at the end there was an extended session for discussion. Naturally it has not been possible to illustrate this article in the same way, or reproduce the lively discussion that followed. For this reason the article is more general than originally intended.
As I was preparing this talk, I realised what a tremendously difficult subject this is. Singing for Children, and indeed Hymn Singing for Children, which will be the main subject of this talk, are both fraught with problems. First and foremost we have the real difficulty that, in spite of the efforts of many music educators, children actually sing less now than they did, say twenty five years ago. Children are also much more difficult to please, and are no longer happy with a simple piano and guitar accompaniment, but need the security of a whole rock bank blasting away on a CD player. However, we all want children to sing and enjoy hymns for a variety of social and spiritual reasons and in this paper I will look at some of the general trends of hymn singing for children over the last century of so, and consider how some of the difficulties of getting children to sing and enjoy hymns can be overcome. One of the main stumbling blocks is the fact that many children believe that singing hymns is simply not cool, as many children, especially non- churchgoers, associate hymn singing with stuffy church services. As an illustration of ‘up-to-date’ hymn singing, I turned to the example set by the impish Bart Simpson. In a recent episode of The Simpsons we witnessed a shocked congregation at Springfield First Church as Bart rearranges the first hymn In the Garden of Eden, in a ‘rock and roll’ style.
However, attempts to make hymn singing accessible tor children are not the preserve of the early twenty first century and it was as the Sunday school movement gathered momentum, especially during the years 1841 to 1884, that even the Tractarians felt the need for suitable hymns for children. Until this time the most successful collection of children’s hymns was Isaac Watts’ Divine Songs attempted in easy language for the use of Children published by T. Longman in 1715. The Wesleys too made many contributions to the genre. However, children’s hymns started to gain real popularity with Mrs. F.M. Yonge’s Child’s Christian Year, and Dr. Neale’s Hymns for Children, which were published in 1841 and 1844 respectively. Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander’s Hymns for Little Children followed these in 1848. Throughout the nineteenth century, the increasing availability of hymn books meant that hymns could be used to educate and to convert children in both sacred and secular settings. Hymns also appeared in the newly popular magazines for children, which were issued under the auspices of religious organisations. These included a variety of edifying material such as moral stories and poems, as well as new hymns contributed from now established hymn writers such as John Burton, junior, Dorothy Ann Thrupp and H.F. Lyte. An inexpensive way of introducing new hymns to large sections of the population was to issue them on flysheets for special occasions such as anniversary services and of these, those of James Montgomery of Sheffield are perhaps the finest. Futhermore, the importance of hymns in music education should not be ignored, and the contribution of the Rev John Curwen from Stowmarket, who introduced the Tonic Sol-fa system into many Nonconformist schools, was significant in this field.
The growth of hymnbooks specifically for children continued apace throughout the twentieth century, and of the many, a few are worthy of particular mention. These include The Sunday School Hymnary of 1905, The Methodist School Hymnal, published in 1910, The School Hymnbook of the Methodist Church, of 1950, and Sunday School Praise of 1958. There are many other excellent volumes available today, so if I have not yet mentioned your favourites, please do not feel slighted.
The contribution of Bart Simpson has already been noted, and whilst this is certainly an irreverent view, it certainly tells us that many children will have been exposed to hymn singing at some level. This, though, is not the only mention of hymns and hymn singing in popular culture and there are many examples of hymns being used in mainstream children’s fiction. Indeed one of Watts’ own verses, How doth the little busy bee finds itself reworked by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland as How doth the Little Crocodile. A fine example of a novelist using hymns to enrich her novels is Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose Little House books have given pleasure to generations since their appearance in the 1930’s. As we follow the Ingalls family through their pioneer lives, the discerning reader will also learn plenty about the development of American hymn singing. Of particular relevance to this talk is the sheer enjoyment found in hymn singing by the young Laura. For example in the last of the novels, These Happy Golden Years, we are able to share Laura’s pleasure in singing in Sunday School, as, after a short absence from home she discovers that, and I quote, ‘singing together was even better than talking’. As Wilder writes we feel the closeness of two friends sharing a hymnbook as:
Clear and sure, Laura’s voice held the note while Ida’s soft alto chimed
‘Sabbath Home’. Then their voices blended together again.
An examination of the text and music for this hymn as they appear in the hymn book Laura used, Pure Gold for the Sunday School by Rev. R. Lowry and W. H. Doane (1871) show that Wilder is inaccurate in this detail as it can be seen that it is the tenor and bass voices which echo the soprano and alto, not the alto which echoes the soprano. This, though, would surely spoil Wilder’s image.
It is both unfortunate and curious that her colleagues this side of the Atlantic do not share Laura Ingalls Wilder’s interest in hymn singing. Aside from the many references in religious stories and magazines, hymns feature in few British children’s novels. It is surprising, for example, that in Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes, a novel published in the same year as Wilder’s first book, and which champions the virtues of hard work and discipline, there is only one mention of hymn singing, and this in the secular setting of carol singing. This occurs on Christmas day, which in this instance is an occasion entirely remarkable for its presents and food rather than the birth of the infant king, when some carol singers call. I quote:
They asked if Pauline and Petrova would like to choose a carol before they went to another street. Pauline thought a moment, and before she had done thinking, Petrova said – ‘Oh, please, “Like Silver Lamps”,’ so they sang that one.
Furthermore, Enid Blyton does not mention hymn singing at all in her popular schoolgirl sagas, St Clare’s and Mallory Towers, both of which were published during the 1940’s.
The degree which hymns are already absorbed into children’s popular culture is important because it emphasises the need to update constantly our ideas and attitudes to keep abreast of changing fashions and trends. An excellent example of a Sunday School leader who made it is business to keep in touch with youth culture is Sidney George Hedges (always known as SG) of Bicester, whom I spoke about, albeit briefly, in the 2001 conference. An examination of some of the anniversary services at Bicester Methodist Church will illustrate the many changes that occurred in children’s hymns in the middle of the twentieth century.
The first anniversary service that SG organised was in 1938, and immediately he broke with tradition by using a mixed orchestra of strings and harmonicas in order to include as many of the Sunday School as possible. An examination of his own carefully annotated service sheet demonstrates how, as well as selecting a range of hymns, he introduces a range of different musical accompaniments and timbres to suit all tastes. As the years passed SG demonstrates that he was constantly on the lookout for new material and that he was aware of the need to absorb cultural changes. An amusing incident in 1953, which he describes in the Sunday School Chronicle, illustrates this. On this occasion he is detailing the hymns that he has selected for the forthcoming anniversary service and is discussing this with other members of the Sunday School teaching staff. However, after finding the first hymns on his lists well received, SG shows that some people were not in favour of introducing new material. I quote:
A storm blew up over two Negro spirituals …In Mrs. H’s and J’s strongly expressed view Lord I want to be a Christian and Didn’t my Lord Deliver Daniel were entirely inappropriate.
On a more serious note, SG shows that the growing trend for political correctness and sensibility in the language of hymns was in evidence as early as the 1950’s. In his newspaper article SG disguises this as a Sunday School teacher’s disagreement over the updating of the anniversary service, but it is important to realise the message beneath as can be seen in the following comment:
Gather Us In proved still more disrupting. Mrs. Henderson and Jane challenged anyone to explain those pagan verses about Green graves and Parsees. Miss Hannam wanted proper doctrinal finish with Methodists’ added verse. Miss Avery said no-one in church would know what it was all about. John Bainton said seniors ought to. Finally we agreed to cut the two Greek and Parsee verses and add the theological ending. So we had eleven hymns at last.
Traditionalists on the Sunday School staff were clearly in favour of maintaining established Methodist doctrine, and were not prepared to introduce any suspect pagan elements. It is interesting to note that the offending two verses do not appear in the two volumes most used by BMSS at this time, and so SG must have had another source in mind. They read, however:
Thine is the mystic life great India craves,
Thine is the Parsee’s sin-destroying beam,
Thine is the Buddhist’s rest of tossing waves,
Thine is the empire of vast China’s dream;
Gather us in.
Thine is the Roman’s strength without his pride,
Thine is the Greek’s glad worth without its graves,
Thine is Judea’s law with love beside,
The truth that censures and the grace that saves us,
Gather us in.
Whilst the opposition to this text was on the grounds of‘paganism’ and misunderstanding, the omission of the words in more recent hymnbooks is in keeping with the twentieth century trend against global differentiation.
Perhaps SG’s most significant contribution to hymn singing for children was his work on Sunday School Praise. Its introduction was seen as necessary because its predecessor, The Sunday School Hymnary was considered to ‘no longer fully meet present-day needs’. SG was himself on the committee and contributed one hymn. His son, Anthony, was ‘responsible for the preparation and presentation of the music’ and he also contributed eighteen tunes and ten arrangements. Thus, whilst it was not a truly Bicester publication, SG certainly felt that it was his own. He made use of this hymnbook prior to its publication, whilst organising funds to purchase it as soon as possible. As early as 1956 he set up a special fund to provide the new hymnbooks, as soon as they became available. This finally happened on March 28th, 1958, when it was reported in Youth News that:
On Sunday the newly published Hymnary Sunday School Praise was introduced throughout the school. It stands for young people worthily alongside the most notable modem adult hymnaries…the £20.00 cost of discarding shabby old books to make way for the new has been cheerfully met.
Throughout the 1960’s SG continued to introduce hymns and spiritual songs which reflected popular Christian opinion as well as world events and this can be seen right up until 1968, the last year in which SG was involved in the anniversary services as Superintendent. In fact, an article appeared in the Bicester Advertiser only two weeks later announcing his intention to step down from the post. A detailed study of this service reveals the many changes in the use of hymns in anniversary services. Some of the hymns used in this service show how much attitudes have changed in the last hundred years. On this occasion there is none of the more standard repertoire of the Anniversary service; instead we see the emergence of modern classics in the freshness of a changing world. Sydney Carter’s popular When I needed a neighbour gets its first airing at a Bicester anniversary service, as does his Lord of the dance. Both hymns were published by Galliard in 1968. It would be difficult to present any argument that does not include these hymns as central to the hymn singing traditions of the second half of the twentieth century. Perhaps the most significant inclusion in the 1968 service is We shall overcome. This time it appears exactly as in the version printed in Faith, Folk and Clarity, where it is described as ‘now probably the best-known and most sung freedom song in the world’. SG shows again that he is committed to world events, as he includes this song ‘In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King’, who was assassinated on April 4th, 1968.
By looking briefly at the example of SG, we have seen how the enlightened adult will attempt to keep abreast of changing trends. However, it is still difficult to find out exactly which hymns children today really like to sing and in order to ascertain this I conducted a very small survey of current school children in Bicester during the last week of summer term, 2002.1 asked 50 randomly selected children from seven primary schools to tell me their favourite hymn. Immediately I ran into difficulties of terminology as few of them recognized the word ‘hymn’ itself. This had to be replaced in some cases ‘worship song’, and in others had to be explained as ‘a song you all sing together in the hall’. The results are as follows:
Seek Ye First = 5
Cauliflowers Fluffy = 6
Lord of the Dance = 9
From a Distance = 4
Our Father = 2
Who put the colours in the Rainbow = 4
Shalom = 2
Our Lord is a Great Big Lord = 1
Water of Life = 3
Kum Ba Yah = 2
This is the day = 1
No preference = 11
Whilst it is difficult to draw any real conclusions from so small a sample, a few points are worthy of note. Of the selection of hymns named, a number can be considered to be classics, which have been popularized by use over many years. These include Lord of the Dance, Kum ba yah, and Seek ye first. From a personal point of view, I was surprised to see Cauliflowers Fluffy as it is a hymn I find particularly irritating. This just shows, of course, how adults think they know what children like. The inclusion of From A Distance is particularly interesting as this is an example of a more moderm – it was written in 1986 – worship song using a pantheistic theme.
We have seen, then, that the concepts of ‘popularity’ and ‘modernity’ are important if children’s interest in hymn singing is to be maintained. This means that when we are selecting a hymn for a given occasion, we may need to sacrifice our personal preferences, which are, perhaps, linked to remembrances of our own childhood. Let us consider how this might be reflected in choosing a hymn. I would like to spend a few minutes contrasting two hymns associated with this time of year – the end of the summer term. These are God be with you till we meet again and One more step along the world I go. The first appears in a number of volumes, notably Prayers and Hymns for Junior School, first published in 1933. First sung in 1882, the writer, Dr. Rankin stated that the hymn was intended to provided a Christian Good-bye on the etymology of ‘God be wi’ye’. The imagery of the text is relatively simple, and certainly the tune, Randolph by R. Vaughan Williams is rousing enough to suit young singers of today. The language, however, is dated with Old Testament references appearing in the ‘Daily manna’ and the ‘smiting of death’. Furthermore, whilst the theme of ‘good-byes’ is much in evidence, there is little or no reference to unknown challenges ahead. In contrast, Sydney Carter’s One more step along the world I go, which has replaced God be with you till we meet again as an end of term song, and can be found in collections such as Junior Mission Praise, is used in many primary schools today. In this text, rather than the finality of a ‘good-bye’ we are reminded of the wealth of opportunity that lies ahead, and of the comfort of the presence of God, whoever we believe him to be, wherever we travel.
As hymn singing adults we all want the culture and tradition of hymn singing to be maintained. However, if hymns are to be taught to young people with less experience of hymn singing that previous generations, it is becoming increasingly apparent that hymns need to be sung not only in church but in environments and it would appear that the future for hymn singing is in the community. In our multicultural society, though, hymns through the media are reaching a much wider audience, which means that there is perhaps a need for hymns themselves to be redefined. We have already seen that it is becoming increasingly more usual for songs with a spiritual rather than an overtly Christian message to be used within the context of worship. Here I will take the opportunity to mention a volume with which I have had considerable success in recent years. It is Alleluya! Songs for thinking people published by A & C Black, and contains an excellent mix of songs to suit all tastes and beliefs.
We have seen, then, that choosing hymns and songs for our children to sing is difficult as we weave our way through the minefield of popular culture and fashionable image. There are many questions that still remain unanswered and some of these are concerned with political correctness and a desire for an all-inclusive language, which removes some of the traditional religious imagery from the hymn texts. There are certainly those among us who want children to learn more traditional words and tunes and consequently this development has been constantly challenged. For myself, I do not know how to bridge the divide of traditional hymn singing and popular community singing. By way of compromise I try to make all my singing sessions as enjoyable as possible, and allow as much element of choice as seems appropriate. After all, only time will tell, and I hope that in the future, the young singers I am working with today will be hymn singers of tomorrow.
Singing without seeing by Emma TurlJohn Milton and Frances van Alstyne were very obviously alike in two ways: both of them went blind and they both wrote hymns. But it would be hard to call to mind two people more different from each other in temperament and in the way they were affected by their disabilities. This in turn surely influenced their approaches to the life and work they were embarked upon. He in maturity considered his talent as ‘lodged with me useless’, while she at the tender age of eight was full of confidence about hers and determined to employ it for the glory of God.
Yet changes in their situations might have had a great effect on their attitudes. What treasures, I wonder, might have been captured for posterity from Milton’s ‘unpremeditated verse’ had be been able to seize a pen and scrawl down the words before they were overtaken by others? Fanny, on the other hand, lived at a time when education for blind people was beginning to receive a high profile. There are plenty of other factors which can have a huge effect upon the experiences and perceptions of people with this kind of handicap, even if they have such an esoteric interest in common as the subject of hymns.
Consulting a small circle of visually impaired friends for the purposes of this article has convinced me that any conclusions I draw will be little better than scanty, representing the situation of any one person very faintly if at all. I can only raise a few issues which may be worth exploring.
One important factor which normally has to be taken into account is the degree of visual impairment. However, although this can have far-reaching effects in other aspects of life, I do not think it makes much difference when it comes to the world of hymns. All of us who cannot see well enough to read the print of a hymn-book are likely to meet the same sort of barriers and may thus be classified as ‘blind’ when these are being considered. Another factor very likely to have a bearing on people’s needs is the stage at which their visual impairment was first encountered. They are usually able to adjust to it more easily if its onset was very early in life; in this case they may well have learnt to read Braille fluently and to develop other skills which help them to manage competently in a variety of surroundings. Give them the right hymn-book, and they can generally find the number they want and read fast enough to join in with the congregation.
However, those who lose their sight later on depend a lot on their visual memory, usually reading Braille slowly if at all. They may be able to recall hymns learnt in the past, but come up against obstacles if they try to go further than that. New or changed words are a problem for them, and even familiar words are difficult to remember when sung to a difference tune from the one they are used to. My own eyesight deteriorated during my adolescence, and I could not see well enough to read a hymn-book after the age of about 10. I learnt many hymns by piecing together what my ears could catch when others sang them. From time to time I still discover words and phrases which I have always got wrong:
‘Are we weak and heavy-laden?
come, but with a load of care…’
is one that comes to mind (‘come, but’ for ‘cumbered’). Another is the way I grew up thinking that the full name for Judaea was ‘Judasaea’, and that this site was once delighted by a bright vision. I could never quite work out the syntax of that one.
Reading, whether independently or through listening to someone else, may be a dying activity in many areas of society, but not so much for those of us who are visually impaired. It is the way into all sorts of activities and situations which we could not easily share ourselves, and so helps us to understand and enjoy the experiences of others. When it comes to hymns, we can do more than this.
Generally we can respond to them in the same way as sighted people, because a visual imagination seldom affects a person’s understanding of a hymn. Sadly, however, the very people who might appreciate new hymns most are often the ones who never come across them at all. A vast assortment of books is recorded in audio formats for people with failing sight, but not hymn-books. The need to obtain copyright permission can hinder reproduction when many sources are involved. Those available in Braille take up a great deal more space than the same printed material would do, thus prohibiting readers from possessing many volumes.
If we assemble the reasons for appreciating hymns – giving voice to our praise, marshalling our thoughts on a theme, reminding us of a passage of Scripture, following through a prayer, and so on — their form makes them especially helpful to people who have to rely heavily on their memory. Less useful are contemporary songs which have little rhyme or metre, since these are usually more difficult to learn, but listening repeatedly to recordings can make this possible too.
Being familiar with paraphrases in various metres has helped me to know at least something about most of the Psalms as well as certain other portions of the Bible. It also facilitates finding them, which as very useful as otherwise I sometimes have to negotiate numerous Braille volumes or audio tapes, or to operate a fixed computer, before even finding the passage I am looking for.
Problems for blind people frequently have something to do with accessibility. These are often present in social situations including church. It is hardly surprising if the vast majority of visually impaired people love to join in with the hymn-singing if at all possible, just as much as in other areas of congregational worship. Yet more than one book may be used, causing us extra confusion, or perhaps the hymns are projected on a screen and so beyond our reach completely. Even if only one book is used, it may not be available in Braille. Then there needs to be enough time to find the hymns which have been chosen, as they may be in several different volumes of the same hymnal. I especially enjoy visiting Loughton Methodist Church in Essex, because the consideration given to the needs of visually impaired people matches the care taken in every other aspect of preparation for worship. The stewards will not only find the right hymns for me, but also hand me the appropriate ones at the right time if required; and if overheads are being used, these can be specially Brailled out with a little prior notice. Someone has painstakingly gone through the volumes marking the numbers so that sighted people can assist by finding the hymns quickly. No-one could do better than that. This kind of forethought is particularly important with respect to people who are new to a church, since they may feel either welcomed or put off, depending on whether they are catered for or not.
Nearly all the visually impaired churchgoers I know tell me that they feel frustrated when they cannot join in the singing. They develop different strategies to try to overcome this. Most do their best before the service to discover what the hymns are going to be. Some enlist sighted assistance to find the right volumes and numbers. Others have the hymns Brailled out for them on separate sheets. I have a friend whose husband whispers to her all the words she does not know. Another sits with a pile of Braille volumes beside her, taking up a whole pew, so that she can locate what she wants. I know someone who actually declines to come to church unless she has been able to ascertain what the hymns will be and to get hold of them in Braille. Just one friend genuinely seems not to mind whether she can follow the hymns in Braille, glad if she can but in no way upset if she cannot. I think the best that a congregation can do for people who are unable to read the hymns is to speak to them about it and try to enable them at least to hear the words. If I can, I like get near someone who articulates these clearly, and if the voice is melodious, so much the better.
Among the hymns we sing are those which refer to eyesight, often figuratively and some with less sensitivity than others. A few of these made me feel quite uncomfortable when my own was getting worse. In school assemblies we used to sing from time to time,
Revive our longing eyes
which languish for thy sight.
I am sure that one made me go red. I tend to change the words if I cannot sing them honestly. So ‘I see the stars’ becomes ‘I’ve seen the stars’, for the memory of them still stirs me to praise. If I had never seen, perhaps I would substitute ‘We see…’, but I expect most people are happy to go along with what is being sung. I was grateful to a minister who once asked me if any of our hymns or songs were a problem for me. I was able to mention two contemporary songs which encourage us all to look into each other’s eyes. He never included them in his selection.
The hymns which are stored in the memory of a blind person can impart particular comfort, satisfaction and hope. These far outnumber the ones which may offend a few of us. For the most part, like the truths they contain, they speak with a particular directness and reality to those of us who cannot see our way and have a very practical reason for looking to the Lord for light. Suddenly a whole range of Biblical concepts take on a new perspective when one is faced with this kind of disability, and the words and music of hymns can convey them to us and keep them fresh in our minds. I understand that many sight-impaired people find special reassurance in the lines of Anna Waring’s ‘In heavenly love abiding’:
Green pastures are before me
which yet I have not seen,
His wisdom ever waketh,
his sight is never dim,
he knows the way he taketh
and I will walk with him.
Of course her words refer to the spiritual realm and are true for every Christian, but this type of hymn helps those of us who lack physical sight to develop a new system of values. One of my personal favourites is Michael Perry’s,
Not the grandeur of the mountains,
nor the splendour of the sea,
can excel the ceaseless wonder
of my Saviour’s love for me:
For his love to me is faithful
and his mercy is divine
and his truth is everlasting
and his perfect peace is mine
‘Kissed a guilty world in love’ by Christopher IdleAs it stands in several books, this is the last line of sixteen (two 8-line stanzas in 8787D) of the hymn ‘Here is love, vast as the ocean’. This is a translation, made by William Edwards around 1900 and popular in the 1904 revival, of the Welsh of William Rees which goes back maybe a further fifty years. Set almost invariably to the American Robert Lowry’s distinctive tune DIM OND JESU, it has proved increasingly popular over the past decade or two. But two current writers have felt that this line, striking as it is, makes an insufficient conclusion to the hymn, or that the hymn itself is too short, or both. There is something to be said for both responses, though much also to be said both for an author’s intentions and for an occasional short hymn on a great theme – in this case, the Atonement.
Can the hymn be improved by adding two further verses? Richard Bewes’ method is to move us on from ‘the mount of crucifixion’ (2.1) to a global view of the history of nations (v.3) and a reminder of the end times (v.4); respectively, ‘Through the years of human darkness/shone the lamp the prophets trimmed…’, and ‘When the stars shall fall from heaven/and the sun turn black as night…’
A rather different approach by Simoney Girard envisages the High Priestly intercession of Jesus following his ascension: v.3: ‘Now restored to heaven’s splendour,/Jesus stand before the throne…’ His final stanza becomes personal and, like the Bewes text, brings us into the presence of the King of Glory, though with no specific reference to the second coming: ‘Though we walked in death’s dark shadow… When at last our eyes shall see him.’
At the time of writing, your editor has not yet had occasion to sing either of the ‘doubled’ versions. With all due respect to the textual purists (whom the history of many other hymns seems to be against) it appears that both pairs of added stanzas are in keeping with the original thought and language, at least as translated, and are not unworthy either of the first two verses or their great subject. The Girard text is perhaps flawed in repeating the same rhyme four times in verse 4, rather than varying it.
A further puzzle is that two standard British Pentecostal hymn-books (but no others?) also print four stanzas, with no indication that 3 and 4 are not original; but that these ‘extras’, if such they are, seem relatively commonplace when compared with the others. Please do not write to me for the new texts; both are copyright, and by keeping alert you may come across them. If so, what do you think?
I sought the author; a Hymnological Whodunnit by Bernard MasseyWhether through ignorance or caution hymnal editors have, almost invariably, attributed the hymn ‘I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew’ to ‘Unknown’ or ‘Anon’. They need do so no longer.
The first hymn-book appearance of the piece seems to have been in the American Congregational Pilgrim Hymnal of 1904 and since then it has found favour across a remarkably wide theological spectrum in America. British mainstream books, though, passed it by until The Baptist Hymn Book of 1962.
For many years the 1904 book was cited as the source. But by the mid-twentieth century the more wide-awake editors had realized that the piece was to be found in Holy Songs, Carols and Sacred Ballads, an anonymous collection published in 1880 by Roberts Brothers of Boston, Massachusetts. This firm (as we learn from Raymond L. Kilgour’s Messrs Roberts Brothers Publishers, University of Michigan Press, 1952) to a large extent specialized in presenting to the American public the work of European, especially British, poets and writers of ‘quality’ fiction. Indeed, the texts in the 1880 book suggest a British origin: there are, for example, at least two mentions of London and one whole poem extolling the charms of Edinburgh whereas there are no references to American topography.
Two years previously the London firm of Longmans, Green and Co. had brought out an anonymous volume entitled One Hundred Holy Songs, Carols and Sacred Ballads. The close similarity of this title to that of the Roberts Brothers collection prompts a comparison of the two books. Neither has a preface or other kind of introduction. Their contents are almost identical although the order of the items is appreciably different. (In neither case is there an obvious reason for the order). Two pieces in the Longmans collections do not reappear in the American one – hence, of course, the dropping of ‘One Hundred’ from the title. In each book the pieces have biblical epigraphs; ‘I sought the Lord’ appears under one of the shortest: ‘He first loved us’.
Clearly the two books come from the same author. And the British Library catalogue, though silent on the authorship of the 1880 book, attributes the 1878 collection to Jean Ingelow. (The name is given between square brackets, indicating, in the usual cataloguers’ convention, that the information comes from a source other than the book itself.) The Dictionary of British Women Writers, ed. Janet Todd, 1989, lists, without qualification, the 1878 book among Jean Ingelow’s works. A similar citation is found in the definitive biography Jean Ingelow, Victorian Poetess (1972) by Maureen Peters: her testimony is particularly significant since, as she acknowledges in the preface, she had been granted access to the Ingelow accounts in Longmans’ records.
For some time writers of hymnal companions have, it is true, regarded Jean Ingelow a prime suspect as author of ‘I sought the Lord’. Her claims have, however, usually been dismissed on the grounds that the piece did not appear in any edition of her collected poems. But, as Raymond Kilgour’s book on Roberts Brothers makes clear, it was normally a condition of anonymous publication, at any rate in the late nineteenth century, that the author did not subsequently give the game away: hence an originally anonymous piece had to remain so. On the other hand, companion writers frequently pointed out that Miss Ingelow’s (only) other hymn text, ‘And didst thou love the race tht loved not thee’ (an extract from her very long poem ‘Honours’, 1863), used the same unusual 10.10.10.6 metre – though that hardly amounts to evidence of authorship.
Jean Ingelow (1820-97) was a prolific English poet, novelist and writer for children, who, thanks largely to Roberts Brothers, was a good deal better known and appreciated in America than in Britain. Indeed, she was held in such esteem in the USA that, on the death of Tennyson in 1892, a group of Americans petitioned Queen Victoria to appoint her to succeed him as Poet Laureate. (She might have proved better than Alfred Austin, who actually got the job!)
In regard to the text of ‘I sought the Lord’, the 1904 Pilgrim Hymnal displays a few wise, though of course unacknowledged, emendations of the original. For the next eighty years or so the ‘Pilgrim’ version was, on either side of the Atlantic, taken as definitive. Rejoice and Sing, 1991, made a few minor adjustments to improve accentuation in the final line and to avoid unnecessary archaisms. (That RS version was used for Morning Prayers at our Leicester conference last year.)
To round off the story, here is the RS text with notes of the variations from the ‘Pilgrim’ version (P) and from the 1878/1880 original (O).
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
it was not I that found, O Saviour true;
no, I was found by thee.
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea;
‘twas not so much that love on thee took hold
as thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but O the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
For thou wast long beforehand with my soul;
thou always lovedst me.
|v1 line||2||He moved my soul to it Who sought for me;|
|v2 line||3||P||O||‘I’, not‘love’ *|
|O||‘But’, not Twas’|
|4||O||As by Thy hold of me.|
|v3 line||1||O||‘ah’, not ‘O’|
|3||P||O||‘wert’, not ‘wast’ *|
|4||P||O||Always thou lovedst me.|
* Here RS adopted the revisions in Rejoice in the Lord, ed. Erik Routley, 1985.
Hymns on my Travels, No. 5 by June GriffithsWe left the U.K. on SS Orcades in March 1966, bound for Japan as new missionaries with the then Overseas Missionary Fellowship of the China Inland Mission, now known as OMF International.
En route, we stayed for four months at OMF Headquarters in Singapore, starting our Japanese language study. An abiding memory is of the crowded upper room there, attended by missionaries of all nationalities singing ‘We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion; we’re marching upwards to Zion, the beautiful city of God’. Surprisingly, this was a new hymn to us: ‘Come, ye that love the Lord’; verses by Isaac Watts, tune, MARCHING TO ZION.
On arrival in Japan, we embarked on a two-year language course in the beautiful northern city of Sapporo. This included some of the thousands of Chinese characters which are incorporated into Japanese. However, thankfully, there was also a much simpler syllabic scrip that even kindergarten children could master well. Hymns were written in this version, so at church I well remember struggling to keep up with the kindergarten in singing the hymns. Soon, though, we were as good as they, at least in this syllabic script – though we had no idea what we were singing.
Then, in 1966, as now, nearly all churches in Japan used one of two hymn-books, some using both alternately. These are Sanbika, which literally means ‘Praise beautiful songs’, and Seika, or ‘Holy songs’. Both these books are music editions; words-only hymnals are never published.
Sanbika was first put together in 1903 and added to over the years. Seika was compiled several years later. Both are in old-style Japanese. Sanbika’s words are quite beautiful, classical; Seika has more of a Moody and Sankey flavour.
Most of the hymns are western. In Sanbika, 7 are translated from Greek, 25 from Latin (‘Adeste fideles’, ‘Veni, veni Emmanuel’ etc), 2 from Italian, 58 German, 6 French, 5 Danish, 4 Chinese, and 370 English. 76 are written by Japanese, though not many of these are popular today. In Seika, again 4 are from Chinese; then 3 from Czech, 5 Danish, 2 Dutch, 2 Finnish, 9 French, 37 German, 5 Greek, 2 Italian, 89 Japanese, 8 Latin, 6 African-American spirituals, 2 Russian, 1 Swedish, 2 Welsh and 522 English.
In church services over the year, hymns translated from English were the most frequently sung, but the service always concluded with the Doxology: the OLD HUNDREDTH, again translated, or ‘To Father, Son and Holy Ghost’ to ORTONVILLE, or ‘Glory to the Father’ to GLORIA PATRI.
After language study we moved north again to Asahikawa, Hokkaido’s second city, situated on a high plain surrounded by mountains. Asahikawa city is very hot in summer (+30°c.) and in the winter the temperature would drop to below minus 30°c, with at least three months of snow and ice. Working with another couple in a huge suburb with no churches of any kind existing, it was three years before we had the joy of our first baptisms; these were three teenage girls, and thirty years on, two of them are much-used women of God.
At baptisms we always sang ‘O happy day that fixed my choice’, by Philip Doddridge, to the tune HAPPY DAY. At another such event some years later, the young man being baptized sang ‘Lord, I want to be a Christian’, and we all sang the chorus. But as he entered the water it was again ‘O happy day…’ Happy such occasions indeed were, and over twenty years God added to his church and we were then able to hand over to a Japanese pastor to lead the flock of forty Christians.
We gathered at the tiny airport to welcome our new ‘Sensei’. As he and his family walked from the plane over the tarmac to the exit, we all sang our well-practised ‘Wonderful grace of Jesus’ by Haldor Lillenhas. He was quite impressed!
In Japan, at Christmas we were introduced to ‘new’ carols. One favourite was ‘Joy to the world’. The young people used to sing carols in sub-zero temperatures in Asahikawa’s main street, at the same time handing out invitations to our Christmas services. Other Christian groups also entered Asahikawa city to do pioneer evangelism in other suburbs. The pastors/leaders would meet regularly for prayer and fellowship and to plan evangelistic meetings. By joining forces in prayer and finance, we could invite Japan’s famous evangelists to come to Asahikawa. Several of these were converted soon after World War 2, and were men much used of God. One such, Honda Kooji Sensei, was called Home earlier in 2002. He preached the Gospel to the last.
Honda Sensei, after his message, would always choose ‘Just as I am, without one plea’, by Charlotte Elliott, to WOODWORTH. Takimoto Akira Sensei always chose ‘Would you be free from your burden of sin’, by L.E. Jones, to POWER IN THE BLOOD, and ‘Have you been to Jesus’, by Hoffman, to the tune ARE YOU WASHED. These were all from Seika. At church Communion services we would sing from either book, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ to HAMBURG.
One young man converted in the 1980s who afterwards went on a seminary and Christian service met us again recently after many years. He has excellent English. He shared with us how much is lost in the translation of hymns, and how he was moved to tears the first time he read the original English of Isaac Watts or Charles Wesley.
It has to be confessed that even now I find the Japanese in Sanbika and Seika difficult to understand at times, because of the old-fashioned style and words. Over the years, I would often ask one of the Christians ‘What does this line actually mean?’, only to receive the reply that he or she didn’t understand either. Very often younger Japanese especially do not fully understand the words they are singing in their hymns.
So these past years or so, in addition to Sanbika and Seika, newer books of Scripture choruses and hymns have been welcome. They are written in everyday spoken Japanese, often using the Scripture words, and newcomers to church can clearly understand what they are singing. Many are written by Japanese; this is a great need. Of course modern western hymns are also popular, put into clear Japanese. Several of Graham Kendrick’s have been translated.
One man recently converted admitted how at first he had been embarassed at the hymns we sing – love songs to God! But on meeting with Jesus, he gladly joined in our praise and worship, and later at his farewell when moving to another place, he chose to sing a solo. ‘Being in his hands, everything changes to praise. Being in his hands I know God will guide me. Being in his hands, everything changes to thanksgiving. Being in his hands I know God will keep me and show me his will.’
The most popular hymn in Japan is Joseph Scriven’s ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’. For some reason the tune is well-known, so it is an easy hymn to sing, and Japanese people can identify with the words.
Other favourites are ‘Amazing grace’, ‘Sweet hour of prayer’, ‘O thou great God’, ‘O love that wilt not let me go’, ‘Guide me, O thou great Redeemer’, ‘O for a thousand tongues’ (to AZMON), Love divine (to BEECHER), ‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds’ (to ST AGNES), ‘My faith looks up to thee’, ‘My hope is built’ (THE SOLID ROCK), ‘Crown him with many crowns’, ‘All hail the power of Jesus’ name’ (CORONATION), ‘Holy, holy, holy’, Jesus, I am resting, resting’ and ‘There shall be showers of blessing’ – which is what we long and pray for in Japan.
Because of business, materialism, suspicion of religions, so very many in Japan have never had a chance to hear the Gospel. So many churches are small and struggling, yet God has brought them into being up and down the land. They need our prayers, that the Christians will be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ and that Gospel blessing will be brought to many more millions of Japanese.
In 1988 we started our second missionary journey, to the Philippines. For me it meant still working with the Japanese community in Manila, serving with the Manila Japanese Christian Church. My husband David began work with Filipino students affiliated to IVCF (Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship). Since the revival in the 1970s, compared with Japan, the Philippines is very much a ‘reaping’ situation.
The Japanese church meeting in rented premises on Sunday afternoons, I can join David in worship at the University of Philippines Campus Church on Sunday mornings. Here OMF Literature Inc. provided the hymn-book that is widely used in many churches. This was published in 1976, in Tagalog for provincial churches but the same book in English for most of the Manila ones. Most of the 240 hymns are from America or England. In addition, the Campus Church also uses an American IVCF hymn-book with modem hymns written by Margaret Clarkson, Timothy Dudley-Smith, Christopher Idle and Michael Perry.
The American influence in the Philippines is seen in the popularity of church choirs. The choir item is an important part of worship. Several in our Campus Church are also well able to sing solo items, often with microphone and back-up tape. The American- style Easter and Christmas Cantatas put on by the choir as a means of evangelism to family members, colleagues and friends are very popular. The giftednss of Filipinos in these presentations is so evident, and the music and message are always very moving.
Finally, during both our missionary journeys one hymn has followed us everywhere. We call it OMF’s ‘national anthem’, often sung at prayer meetings and always at our missionary conferences. This is not found in Sanbika or Seika, nor (surprisingly) in the OMF Literature Inc. hymn-book. But it is on OMFers hearts; words from Joseph Hart, tune CELESTE:
How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend!
His love is as great as his power,
And knows neither measure nor end.
‘Tis Jesus, the First and the Last,
whose Spirit shall guide us safe home:
We’ll praise him for all that is past,
And trust him for all that’s to come.
All over the place – 5
Guang’an, West China, late 1940s: Mr Pun the tailor, in blow gown and trilby, sat outside the church sewing, listening through the window every Sunday until he was converted. He taught Christian songs to his village of 30 people, singing them all to one tune. His neighbours were glad to find there were other tunes too. – Miriam Davis, currently a mission partner with OMF International, talking to Evangelicals Now (Oct 2002) about her late parents’ ministry in China.
Crask Lodge, West Highlands: Archie (Sir Archibald Roylance) is debating a risky sporting venture. ‘The Claybody’s will be there, and they’ll be all over you – brother noblemen, you know, and you goin’ to poach their stags next day! Hang it, why shouldn’t you turn the affair into camouflage? “Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise”, says the hymn…We’ll have to think this thing out ve-ry carefully.’ – from John McNab by John Buchan, 1925, page 89.
The English coastline: ‘We make the Frinton Churches’ [Essex] beach mission tent just in time to catch the final song “May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day, by his love and power controlling all I do and say”. My eyes are moist with joy and gratitude…At the East Runton Gap [north Norfolk] I am two-thirds through my journey and behind me are two thirty-year periods of my life. The words of our favourite hymn come to mind: “When all thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys, transported with the view, I’m lost in wonder, love and praise”…As I pick my way over Dane’s Dyke [Flamborough, Yorkshire], there appears a little rainbow over the sea. I take a picture and remember George Matheson’s famous line “I trace the rainbow through the rain”, except that he originally wrote “I claim the rainbow through the rain”. After all, anyone can trace it. It takes faith to claim it’. – from Walking the Edge: a spirited trek the length of the English coastline, by Graham F Jones, 2001, pp. 118, 144, 175. [Or was it ‘climb’?]
A New Dictionary of Hymnology by J.R. WatsonThe editor has kindly allowed me to write about a projected successor to Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology. I was approached some two years ago by the Canterbury Press with the suggestion that I might edit such a work, and after some hesitation, I accepted. Since then, a good deal of planning and laying the foundations has been going on, and the creation of individual entries is beginning.
The Canterbury Press has arranged for joint publication with Eerdmans, the well-known American publisher of reference books on religious subjects. Eerdmans appointed an American editor, John Witvliet; I appointed an Australasian editor, Colin Gibson, and a Canadian editor, Margaret Leask. I also invited Michael Garland and Kenneth Trickett to be assistant editors, and my former colleague Jeremy Dibble to be Music Editor.
As readers of the Bulletin will be well aware, the task is a huge one. As I look at the copy of Julian’s Dictionary on my desk, I find myself awed by its size and its thoroughness. It was all done in an age before computers and e-mail, before modern ‘Companions’ to hymn books, and before resources such as HymnQuest. It is a monument to years of dedicated work by Julian, his assistant, James Mearns, and his contributors. To try to produce a similar work for the twenty-first century is the hymnological equivalent of climbing Everest.
I am also acutely aware that, over the years, there have been attempts to ‘revise Julian’, and that those who have undertaken this work have not lived to see it completed. I am myself uneasily conscious of having a limited time to finish a new dictionary, and of a certain presumption which accompanies any very large piece of work undertaken at my age. But I can only hope that, if anything should happen to me, the structure will be in place to ensure that this time it really does happen. It is a great help in this regard that I have the Pratt Green Hymnology Collection in the University Library here; and also that I have received a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship for 2002. This will pay for a Research Assistant for a short period (probably in 2004) and for a part-time Secretary for the next twenty-four months. She is currently organising an ‘office’ (not just a space, but also a methodology) which should be able to keep the project steady, firm, and professional. At the same time, I am also full of admiration for people such as Leslie Bunn, John Wilson and Wilfrid Little, who in the past, and without these advantages, worked so hard to produce work for the proposed revision.
I decided, fairly early in the planning process, that it would be a mistake to try to ‘revise Julian’. His Dictionary will continue to be a major reference book. In it will be found notes to hymns and authors who have long since ceased to be ‘in C.U.’, to use Julian’s phrase (meaning ‘in common use’). His first edition was dated 1892; his second 1907. We live in a different world, hymnologically as well as socially and politically. So the proposed new dictionary will not have entries for long-forgotten writers or composers.
Indeed, it came as a surprise to me, when working on the first draft of possible contents, to find when reading Julian how much was there that I had never needed (though one day of course I might), but also just how much that I have needed just was not there. I went through his Dictionary, letter by letter. I found that my own letter-lists were usually about one quarter Julian and three quarters my and the assistant editors’ own. At the same time, of course, future researchers who want to know about (I turn a page at random) Frederick Whitfield or John Bradford Whiting, will be able to find them in his work. In the proposed new dictionary, they will, it is hoped, be able to find information not only about the writers and hymns which are in Julian and which are still ‘in C.U.’ (though we will not be using that abbreviation), but also the facts about hundreds of others who were either missed out by him or lived and worked since his time.
The consequence is that the new dictionary will have at least two thousand entries on individual hymns, and one thousand entries on authors, with two hundred or so entries on historical ‘topics’ such as Salvation Army Hymnody, or Churches of Christ Hymnody, or Methodist Hymnody. Tunes will be mentioned when there are special reasons for doing so: when a hymn has been specially written for a tune, or a tune for a hymn. I hope also to have entries on the hymns of many countries, from Hispanic Hymnody to Japanese Hymnody.
When will it appear? Well, I would like to think that it could appear in 2007, one hundred years after Julian’s second edition, but I have my doubts about the possibility of this. It will depend on such things as further funding, but at this stage I certainly could not promise any date, and be certain to keep to it. We shall see. We can only hope that it does not take too long.
All of this will require a great deal of expertise and willing help, and I have already had some wonderful letters of support and practical help from many members of the Hymn Society. I can only say that I should welcome more. This should be a collaborative effort, and if anyone who thinks that he or she can offer to do some entries on a particular topic, please feel free to write to me: instructions, such as a style sheet and examples, will be sent as a guide.
J.R. Watson, ‘Stoneyhurst’, 27 Albert Street, Western Hill, Durham DH1 4RL. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Albert Bayly, 1901-1984
The name of Albert Bayly will be familiar to all students of twentieth-century hymnody, and many members of the Society will remember his presence at Conferences, right up to the one at Chichester just before his death.
A complete edition of his poems and hymns was commissioned by Oxford University Press, but the project was later abaandoned by them. The intended editor, the Revd David H. Dale, has now placed the typescript copy of this work in the Pratt Green Collection at the University of Durham. It contains an account of Albert Bayly’s life, and the poems with notes. There is also a smaller file with obituary tributes and other relevant letters.
This Bayly file will complement the papers which the Collection already holds, including copies of the Fred Pratt Green scrapbooks and the John Wilson papers. Anyone who is interested in the hymn writing of this period will be most welcome to consult any or all of these.
Happy ones and holy (Obituaries)
Anthony Francis Dominic Milner, whose tune CRESS WELL for Luke Connaughton’s ‘Love is his word’ has become widely known, died in Spain on 22 September 2002, aged 77.
As this Bulletin was being prepared we were sorry to hear of the death of our long- serving member and friend Mrs Hilda Little, widow of Wilfrid. A tribute will appear in our next issue.
Methodist Hymns Old and New. Kevin Mayhew, Stowmarket, 2001. Full music, £17.99, ISBN 1 84003 675 3; words only, £5.99, ISBN 1 84003 674 5, both hbk.
This is the most recent in a series of hymn-books produced by Kevin Mayhew, with Methodist input from three ministers and a lay person. It consists of 885 hymns, worship songs and choruses and is intended to encompass the current needs of Methodist churches in a single volume. However, unlike previous collections bearing the name ‘Methodist’, this has not been authorised or approved by the Methodist Conference.
As one would expect, the Wesley family is well represented – 140 hymns by Charles, 13 by John and one by their father Samuel. This last, ‘Behold the Saviour of mankind’ was in the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book. Isaac Watts has 28 and various other 18th and 19th century writers’ work is included. Coming to the last (as we must now call it) century, Fred Pratt Green (17), Timothy Dudley-Smith (13), Fred Kaan (6), Brian Wren (4), Albert Bayly (3), and Michael Saward (2) are also here. Perhaps the most significant newcomer is Martin Leckebusch (see Bulletin No. 223 p. 62). All of these are overtaken by Graham Kendrick with 29 entries and Michael Forster with 28 – as either author or adaptor. The latter obviously has a great sense of imagination and seems to excel when writing for children. Here we have the Nativity story from the point of view of the donkey who found a baby in his dinner! Forster also contributes a ‘de-militarised’ version of ‘For all the saints’ and other hymns for adults.
MHON is unusual nowadays in providing a section of 52 ‘Children’s Hymns & Songs’ although the criteria for dividing these from the rest of the book (which is arranged in purely alphabetical order) are unclear. ‘Wide, wide as the ocean’ appears in the general section, while ‘Jacob’s ladder’ is with the children’s – and there are many similar instances.
The words-only version is attractively set out, if with somewhat larger pages (9”x6”) than Methodists have had before. The rigid 2-column format means that in hymns with more than nine syllables per line, these are divided into two shorter lines which give a disjointed appearance. This is partly overcome by only those lines which start a sentence being given a capital letter. Indexes of authors, scripture references, subjects and lectionary links are included.
The edition with tunes is an altogether weightier tome – 4Ibs! Did the publisher envisage people actually holding a copy while singing? There were complains that the music edition of Hymns and Psalms was too heavy; MHON is doubly so. The bulk is caused by the spacious presentation of tunes. 97 hymns are set to two tunes, five to three tunes; in twenty cases the same tune is set in two keys, and in five, tunes appear in two versions. Added to this are 126 blank pages made necessary by the strict alphabetical order of the hymns, and where a 2-page layout follows a single-page one. The choice of tunes is conservative. While some of those introduced in Hymns and Psalms are retained, in other cases there are reversions to older traditions, including the return of LLOYD, NOTTINGHAM, RIPON and REST (Maker). The old chorus versions of ‘We’re marching to Zion’ and ‘God be with you till we meet again’ are included, as are some additional folk settings: ‘I heard the voice of Jesus say’ to ‘Drink to me only’ and the Wesley birthday hymn (‘Away with our fears, the glad morning appears’) to ‘Sweet Nightingale’.
67% of the texts are in Hymns and Psalms. 26 have been brought back from The Methodist Hymn Book and five from Hymns and Songs. Most Methodist churches which want newer material will have already invested in copies of Mission Praise, Songs of Fellowship etc. Is there a market for this book? Time will tell.
Bryan Spinney has produced a 22-page Independent Review and Extended Survey of the book; copies can be obtained from 28 Oldbarn Close, Totton, Southampton SO40 2SY at 75p (including p&p) and 50p for extra copies with the same order.
Sydney Carter’s ‘Lord of the Dance’ and other songs and poems. Stainer and Bell, London, 2002. 38pp, £6.00 pbk. ISBN 0 85249 855 1
‘Just as people used [sic] the daly singing of the psalms, so I and many others slip naturally and supematurally into Sydney’s songs’: thus Rabbi Lionel Blue in a gently loving Introduction, which together with Nicholas Williams’ brief but striking biographical note leads us into the verses of this ‘one off’ with his ‘plastic songs’ – the Rabbi again, in a positive sense.
These are all from the 1960s and 1970s and also featured on a similarly titled CD in 1998. Even those who venture to doubt the doubter can enjoy the freshness, wit and mastery of language and rhythm which the author showed so consistently and uniquely in his day. Thirteen of the 26 texts have tunes, and five have the author’s valuable personal notes. The Rabbi’s favourite is also my own: ‘An Amen song’ says its author and composer, ‘but do not sing that word with terrible finality…Let it keep on travelling.’ The book, slightly larger than A4 format, is of course beautifully produced.
Sing God’s Glory: Hymns for Sundays and Holy Days, years A, B and C, new enlarged edition. Compiled by Alan Luff, Alan Dunstan, Paul Ferguson, Christopher Idle and Charles Stewart. Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2001. xv+237pp, £9.99. pbk. ISBN 1 85311 415 4.
For those who have the responsibility for choosing hymns for the Sunday morning Eucharist, the first two paragraphs of the Preface should be compulsory reading. Hymns are a vitally important part of the liturgy. They should not be chosen on the basis of whim or prejudice, or just before the service is about to begin.
Sing God’s Glory aims to relate hymns to the Lectionary readings and the Psalms. This is a relatively new approach to hymn selection, although the RSCM Sunday-by-Sunday quarterly guide does relate hymns to the Epistle and Gospel. It is possible to choose hymns for the whole service because seasonal material is also included.
Relating hymns to the readings and Psalm is not easy, and I suspect that most ministers/vicars/organists choose on the basis of season, length and popularity. This book may encourage a more thoughtful and cohesive approach. In its enlarged edition the lists are now selected from a dozen hymnals plus some ‘extras’.
Perhaps it is a sign of age, but I found the print a bit small; and occasionally having the Sunday’s hymns on two pages a bit irritating. These small quibbles aside, Sing God’s Glory is a useful and thoughtful aid to the choosing of hymns for Sunday morning – which should be, as the compilers say in the Preface, ‘a creative and refreshing exercise’.
The other weekend we had our good friend Smith staying with us. While he was here a phone call came for him. It was his friend Brown.
‘Is the presence of Smith with you, by any chance?’ he asked.
We replied that Smith was with us.
‘Ah’, he replied, ‘but is his presence with you, too?’
I called Smith to the phone, after first telling him that he should consider himself jolly lucky. Not only was he with us; his presence was with us as well. He rolled his eyes and entered into conversation with his pleonastically-inclined friend.
PS. See Worship Songs Ancient and Modern, No.9: ‘Be still, for the Spirit of the Lord’. Emendation approved personally, prior to WSA&M proofing, by the song’s author, Dave Evans.
Thank you for the ‘leading article’ in Bulletin 233, ‘Why bother with a hymn book’ by Brian Edwards. He is not alone in his concern lest the OHP replace the hymn book in the pew. The Report of the Committee to Revise the Hymnary, presented to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 2001, made some of the same powerful points, and added:
The exclusive use of overhead projectors tends to diminish the usefulness of the text. No sooner has the verse been sung that the words disappear, and the worshipper cannot look back and muse on what has been sung, as is possible with a hymn book. Ministers and leaders of worship should be particularly aware of this, given that their choice of material for the overhead projector comes through their ability to reflect on written texts – a privilege which is denied to the worshippers.
When overhead projectors and service sheets are used as a substitue for hymn books, there occurs something very like a centralisation of power in the hands of a few, namely those who choose the hymns and songs. This could be seen as contrary to the reformed understanding of the shared priesthood of the congregation. The drive in the 16th and 17th centuries to furnish not just the choir but the whole congregation with psalters was indicative of the belief that all worshippers should have access to materials which would nourish their spirits.
The reviewer in Bulletin 233 of Professor Watson’s Annotated Anthology of Hymns regrets that the book includes no hymns by D.L. Moody. Do any exist?
Other people may be puzzled (as I was) to read on p.601 of The Oxford Companion to Music (2002 edition), ‘Since the 1960s there has been an upheaval; first the Roman Catholic Church allowed congregational hymn-singing, which has led to the development of a popular style of Catholic hymns’. This seemed strange as authorised English Catholic hymnbooks have been published at least since the 1912 Westminster Hymnal. Correspondence with the author of this contribution (Peter Wilton of the Gregorian Society) reveals that the change to which he refers is not the introduction of hymns as such into the services but the permission ‘that the ancient proper chants could be replaced by hymnody’. The restriction of the number of allotted words did not allow a more detailed explanation. I hope this may relieve any fears that Roman Catholics had been offending by singing hymns before the 1960s!
‘Hymns, from Tideswell Parish Church, include Now We Thank All Our Gods…’ Radio Times blurb for an autumn ‘Songs of Praise’.
News of Hymnody
Our younger sister quarterly of that name is being edited at least for this its 22nd year by Anne Harrison of Durham. Orders are handled by the publishers, Grove Books, Ridley Hall Road, Cambridge CB3 9HU: still amazing bargain at £3.00 postal subscription for the year.
The recently-published Christian Hymn and Worship Book is the first-ever hymnal in the Khmer language. More than half of its hymns were written by Cambodians.
Among our Contributors this time:
Award-winning biographer (of John Stott) Timothy Dudley-Smith was Bishop of Thetford, Norfolk, until 1992, since when he has lived at Ford, near Salisbury in 1992. His hymn-writing continues; a further ‘collected edition’ of texts is due this year.
Over the years, the Reigate schoolmaster and Dorking organist Martin Ellis has served the society in many capacities. His work is found in Hymns and Psalms and in other current collections.
June Griffiths served at St Mark’s Barrow-in-Furness before joining what is now OMF International in 1965. Since then she has worked with her husband David in Japan and the Phillipines.
All-round cricketer Jim Jelley has been Vicar of St Luke’s Church North Peckham in SE London since 1996 and is Rural Dean of Camberwell.
Michael Jones ran a jewellery co-operative from 1970 onwards and now lives in Weston Favel near Northampton.
Bryan Spinney is a retired Methodist minister who formerly edited the Bulletin of the Methodist Church Music Society. He was a member of the Texts Sub-Committee for Hymns and Psalms, and has writen widely on the words and music of hymns.
After reading English at Oxford, Emma Turl worked in Ghana for many years with her husband John; they now live in Waltham Abbey, Essex. She has written many Psalm paraphrases and original texts, some of which appeared in her own collection Time to Celebrate in 2000.
Gillian Warson has a PhD in Hymnody from the University of Sheffield; she is a viola player and violin teacher in Oxfordshire, with a special interest in local history. She joined the society’s Executive Committee in 2000.
Paul Wigmore is a poet, hymnwriter, editor, critic, photographer and wit, living at Bitton in South Gloucestershire.
The Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland
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Secretary: The Revd Geoffrey J. Wrayford
Treasurer: The Revd Michael Garland
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