Bulletin 246 Volume 18 No1 January 2006

The Hymn Society Bulletin
January 2006

hsb246 v18.1 cover Graham Deans
Graham Deans

Welcome to a new Volume of the Bulletin. We hope you appreciate the new design. (Editor)

The Music of the Scottish Psalter (1929) and its Relevance for Worship in the Church of Scotland Today by Graham Deans

The year 2004 marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Scottish Psalter (1929), produced by the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, both of whom had been involved in the production of the Revised Church Hymnary (1927), (henceforth RCH) and who were then contemplating union. Their respective General Assemblies in 1928 authorized the preparation of a new psalter, and in the following year, when the two denominations came together, there was published a revision, not of the words of the metrical psalms, which had remained virtually unchanged since 1650, but of the music.

The musical Editor was T.C.L. Pritchard (1885-1960), who was regarded in his day as having ‘competent and safe hands.’ Maybe, with the advantage of hindsight, he was actually ‘too safe’, for despite the fact that he helped to produce a collection that can be described to some extent as being musically imaginative and innovative, the resultant publication can also be criticized for failing to take any real risks in promoting new music by contemporary composers.

The Origins and Range of the Music

Only 35 out of the Scottish Psalter’s 192 tunes can claim a Scottish provenance, and some of these claims seem rather dubious. For example, BALLERMA (27) is a Scottish adaptation of a French melody for a Spanish ballad; and one of the book’s most respected composers, R A Smith, (1780-1829) who spent his entire professional life in Scotland, was, despite his Scottish parentage, actually English by birth, and he retained an English accent all his life.

Indeed, the most significant proportion of tunes comes from England (115, or almost 60%), while a further six come from an Anglo-Genevan background. There are six French tunes, and 23 from Germany. One tune is American, one is Austrian, one is Russian, three are Irish, and surprisingly, in the light of their significant representation in RCH, there is only one tune from Wales. There is little sense of the influence of the ‘World Church’, but this is hardly surprising. The concerns for, and the insights gained from the Third World, for example, were later in emerging. Reasons for this development would include the ending of colonialism and paternalism after the Second World War, the growth of independence of emerging nations, especially in Africa and Latin America, and the rediscovery of their once suppressed culture. In post-colonial and multicultural Britain, the Church requires a wider range of sacred song.

Thirty-five tunes were recommended in the alphabetical index of The Scottish Psalter (1929) for use with certain paraphrases as well as with selected psalms or psalm-portions, while only 13 were ‘assigned’ exclusively to paraphrases. Such distinctions, however, are largely academic, as people were free to employ the book as they saw fit. This was an inevitable result of using the ‘cut-leaf’ or ‘Dutch door’ format, which allowed worship leaders a fair degree of latitude in the ‘mix and match’ process of selecting tunes (appropriate or otherwise), and which accounts for considerable regional variations that exist.

Although prior to the publication of CH4 the Scottish Presbyterian Churches had never fully adopted the practice of having ‘proper’ tunes to the psalms - contrary to the wishes of the reformers - certain psalms have indeed become associated over the years with particular tunes and these partnerships have come to be regarded as almost indissoluble. ‘I to the hills will lift mine eyes’ (Psalm 121) is sung almost invariably to FRENCH (61); ‘All people that on earth do dwell’ (Psalm 100) is universally matched with Bourgeois’s fine melody, OLD HUNDREDTH (13); ‘Now Israel may say, and that truly’ (Psalm 124) can only be set to OLD 124th (185). One is hard pressed to think of many others; but to the anticipated popular objection, ‘What about the twenty-third psalm set to CRIMOND (47)?’ one has to say of that Victorian tune that its coupling with ‘The Lord's my Shepherd’ is a comparatively recent innovation. The tune was one of those printed in 1929 without any recommendations as to what constituted the most suitable text, and its popularity owes much, if not all, to the fact that it was used (complete with descant by W B Ross, now in CH4) for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in 1947.

Economic Issues

While some tunes in the 1929 book never seem to be used, never having succeeded in capturing the imagination of the Church’s ministers or members, others are in danger of becoming overworked. This latter practice is clearly of questionable musical value. One cannot help wondering how much influence was exerted by economics. After all, there are financial considerations involved in the publication of any book, and there can be little justification in the luxury of supplying melodies for every single setting of the Psalms, especially when there are large sections of the Psalter that were never intended to be sung, and which seem entirely inappropriate for use in Christian worship. Some other Psalters, both traditional and contemporary, do precisely this.

Other Restrictions

A major restriction on the musical quality of the 1929 Psalter is to do with its lack of metrical variety. Out of 150 Psalms, 143 are in Common Metre; by any standards this should have been seen as excessive, and it did put severe constraints on the music. One has to remember, however, that when the text of the Psalter was first published in 1650, it was, in a major departure from Reformation principles, issued without music.

It was perhaps inevitable that much of the music of the Scottish Psalter should seem rather unadventurous, even in its twentieth century incarnation. We may excuse the overworked musical expressions which abound, and betray the amateur status of some of the composers: the final phrases of such tunes as DUNFERMLINE (52), ST. FLAVIAN (105), WINCHESTER (145), FRENCH (61), DUKE'S TUNE (50) (and, in the minor mode, DUNDEE (51)) are all virtually identical. But these phrases are also eminently memorable, and I hope it can be recognised that they often belong to what are actually superb tunes. All but the last two are still in regular use. However, it takes a composer of some genius to produce something original, striking, simple, and also singable, within the constraints of Common Metre.

There are also restrictions imposed by age; copyrights may not have expired, and sometimes the fees required to have contemporary tunes printed can be quite exorbitant. Nevertheless, it seems inexplicable that the Scottish Psalter of 1929 should include only two tunes by then living composers - ‘Hebdomadal’ (67) by Thomas B Strong, (1861-1944) and ROCHESTER (98) by Charles H Stewart (1884-1932). And neither tune seems to have become particularly well known. The lack of contemporary representation surely represents something of a missed opportunity, given that there were musicians of some stature whose work should have merited inclusion.

Gathering Notes

In response to the lead set by the English Hymnal (1906) and followed in RCH (1927), the Scottish Psalter (1929) restored to the psalm tunes the long notes at the beginning of the first lines (and often of other lines as well). This made for a terrific rhythmic improvement, which was entirely in keeping with the originals, but it is arguable that no change of policy proved to be more confusing, or attracted more criticism than this one. Here, however, the compilers of RCH and the Scottish Psalter have not always acted with consistency. This is particularly evident with ST. ANNE, where the two versions have caused much confusion. CH3 (1973) abandoned the long notes in that tune, as has CH4. Perhaps what this teaches us is that popular preferences and practices are often stronger than musical correctness.

Millar Patrick rightly points out that the term ‘gathering note’ is a misnomer, covering a masterly musical device to impart variety and interest to the Psalm tunes. They are robbed of their characteristic dignity and grandeur when they are clothed with an unyieldingly rigid strait-jacket. But no doubt a contrary view could be expressed with equal force.

Rhythmic variety, as exhibited in such tunes as OLD 81st (154), and PSALM 107 (157), where the time signature changes from 3/2 to 2/2 and back again, was a feature that led Queen Elizabeth to speak disapprovingly of the Continental Psalm tunes as ‘Geneva jigs’, and is also responsible for the thinking that a Common Metre Psalm tune should be treated as being in 3 time.

Pitch of Tunes

Each succeeding generation of published collections of tunes seems to favour a progressively lower pitch. The Scottish Psalter (1929) has lowered the pitch of most of the standard psalm tunes, compared with its predecessor of thirty years earlier. CH4 has gone even further.

But for whose benefit is the policy of transposition to lower keys intended? There would appear to be three possible answers. Firstly, it may serve the interests of congregations better, because it encourages unison singing. Dr Percy Buck gives four reasons for preferring this: (a) it allows voices which individually may have no musical value to sound well en masse because the ‘crowd’ irons out their deficiencies; (b) excellent results can be obtained with the minimum of time; (c) congregations, particularly the men, find lower pitches easier; and (d) unison singing is an unfailing test of the robustness (or otherwise) of the melody. Erik Routley offers a fifth reason for preferring unison singing, namely that it is helpful towards securing a fairly quick tempo. He argues, against Vaughan Williams, who preferred unison singing and slow singing, that poor part-singing is an inhibition to true Christian zeal, and supports his case by quoting from the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who defends unison singing on theological grounds. Dr Donald Webster adds a sixth reason: the human voice is, apparently, becoming deeper. He draws attention to the fact that the contralto voice seems to be becoming more and more the ‘natural’ voice for women, particularly young women, and wonders whether a deep singing voice actually reflects an increasingly unisex society.

The second beneficiaries of the policy change are the keyboard players, who may face difficulties when confronted by tunes like CREDITON with a key signature of five sharps, as it appears in the English Hymnal (206), or in five flats like ST CHRISTOPHER (RCH 691).

The third beneficiaries are the tunes themselves. The progress of certain fine tunes has been surely hampered by having been set in difficult or awkward keys. ALBERTA originally appeared in D flat (Songs of Praise 554); and ROCHESTER in G flat (Songs of Praise 594).

Against lowering the pitch, one can state that it is often the higher reaches of the voice that are the most sonorous, and that to sing hymns and psalms at too low a pitch can rob them of their colour. Composers often have the reasons for setting their works in a particular key; and Deryck Cooke makes the point that while keys do not have universal connections with particular emotions, there is nevertheless a certain amount of broad agreement. For example, C minor is a ‘tragic’ key in the music of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Stainer. D major is often regarded as ‘brilliant’ (trumpets sound particularly well in this key, which is associated with festal music); D flat major is regarded as ‘luxurious’ and G minor is often thought of as a melancholy key; but at least two of Bach’s more sprightly organ fugues in that key (BWV 542 and 578) would seem to contradict that. In short, although keys matter, and may be carefully chosen, perhaps no consistency of practice is possible; suffice it to say that since the Scottish Psalter (1929) is a people’s book rather than a chorister’s book, lower pitches are probably justified, as is the apparent policy of not exceeding four sharps or flats in any of the key signatures.

Descants, Faux-bourdons, and Unison Settings

The Scottish Psalter (1929) is richly provided with some excellent descants, faux-bourdons, and, in an appendix, alternative unison settings of the Psalm tunes. Its fourteen descants represented something of an innovation in Scottish worship.

The use of descants to embellish psalm and hymn tunes began to grow in popularity in the early part of the twentieth century, but they seem rather to have fallen from favour in Scotland, especially since the publication of CH3 in 1973. Only one has been published in the Psalm section of CH4.

The earliest British hymn book to include descants appears to have been Songs of Praise (1926); their appearance north of the border only three years later must therefore be regarded as somewhat bold and adventurous.

The effect of descant has been recognised as ‘artistically satisfying’; it can indeed be quite thrilling. An early quotation affirms that ‘this manner of singing is merry to the singer and to the hearer.’ But a note of caution is sounded by the editors of the New English Hymnal, who state in their Preface their belief that ‘such embellishments are more effective if used sparingly.’

Faux-bourdons, as opposed to descants, are of more ancient provenance. In the early Scottish Psalters (and also the English ones), the people’s part was assigned to the tenor voice, which was required to hold the melody (Latin, teneo), while the other parts supplied the harmony.

The English Hymnal of 1906 seems to have been one of the first publications to re-introduce this practice to the Church: it includes 11 settings, only one of which (St. Anne) is included in the seven arrangements printed in the Scottish Psalter of 1929, although most of the tunes are also retained. RCH (1927) also printed several such settings.

Sadly no faux-bourdons were retained in CH3 (1973), but several settings have appeared in CH4. These include WINCHESTER OLD (4), MARTYRS (34), WIGTOWN (41), OLD HUNDREDTH (63), YORK (79) and FRENCH (81).

As to the varied accompaniments for unison singing, these were ‘relegated’ to an appendix in the 1929 Psalter. These arrangements are the subject of some controversy. Personally, I believe that their effectiveness may be measured in inverse proportion to their frequency of use. There is nothing more off putting for a congregation than to have an outrageously ostentatious or vulgar arrangement played as the concluding stanza to every psalm or hymn. But if the best of them are performed with ‘restrained excellence’ and in a musicianly way, they can provide a legitimate adornment to what is being sung. However, it can be a very big ‘if’; and one is mindful of the fact that no less an authority than J S Bach was once disciplined for his introduction of ‘strange harmonies’ to the familiar chorales. Of the arrangements published in the Scottish Psalter (1929), I believe that those of MARTYRS (86), ST. PAUL (120), and STROUDWATER (134) are the most restrained, and probably also the most effective. The second (and easier) of the two arrangements of the OLD 100th (13) is rather pianistic in style, but the remaining examples (all composed by the book’s Musical Editor) seem more flamboyant, and require a good deal of technical skill to perform them successfully.

Instrumental Accompaniment

The provision in the staff notation editions of a number of varied accompaniments for unison singing assumes that the normal instrumental accompaniment to the psalms would be supplied by the organ, but it was also recognised that the voices of the choir would be expected to lead the congregation.

The former assumption represents something of a departure from previous editions of the Metrical Psalter, which presumed that the only legitimate instrument of praise would be the human voice. But by 1929 organs had become well established in most mainstream Scottish Presbyterian Churches (thanks largely to the generosity of benefactors like Andrew Carnegie). Even so, they have still not found universal acceptance in the Kirk, and some Presbyterian denominations (most notably, the Free Church and the Free Presbyterians) still refuse to entertain the idea of installing a ‘kist o’ whistles’ - or any other musical instrument. Generally, where the organ has fallen out of favour, it has been displaced by the ‘praise band’, and few, if any of the ancient psalm tunes, lend themselves to sympathetic treatment by such ensembles, which seem much more suited to the performance of modern ‘worship songs’ such as John Bell’s setting of Psalm 47 to his tune, MARIUS, which he says was composed in a style adopted from African models. It calls for ‘energetic accompaniment’, with percussion, and possibly also dance; the Zimbabwean setting of Psalm 100 is designed for bass drone and percussion; Fred Dunn’s setting of the same psalm is better served, according to the editors of Common Ground by a piano, for its percussive effects; and the same book’s setting of Psalm 16 is described as being suitable for guitar and flute.

Some Concluding Comments

While it may be expected that all metrical Psalters should bear the characteristic hallmarks of antiquity, given that their contents are derived from ancient sources, the musical conservatism of the 1929 Scottish Psalter defines it as a document of its time. This is not necessarily a bad thing; just as the music of J S Bach is often said to represent the apotheosis of the Baroque era, so it may well be that the music of the Scottish Psalter (1929) represents the climax to all that had gone before it in the Presbyterian and Reformed musical tradition.

Apart from its alternative unison settings for organ, it is, in the best sense of the description, a backward-looking book, which places its emphasis firmly on the restoration of true Reformed musical practice, rather than on radical innovation.

The Scottish Psalter (1929) is nevertheless a very fine book, and if it is now largely neglected in the contemporary Church, that is more likely to be due to its literary and metrical deficiencies, rather than to its alleged musical shortcomings. Its declining popularity is regrettable, and the publication of CH4 in May 2005 seems to give even further evidence of this. Although the number of fresh metrical translations of the psalms in modern language ought to be welcomed by contemporary worshippers, who seek to rediscover the spiritual riches of the psalter, musical traditionalists will be disappointed by the loss of over thirty of the Scottish Psalter’s tunes which had been retained in CH3. It is true that some old favourites have returned, namely, BALLERMA, BON ACCORD, INVOCATION, ORLINGTON, SHEFFIELD, STRACATHRO, TIVERTON and WETHERBY, but the sad fact is that the 1929 book cannot meet the needs of a generation which prefers to treat the psalms differently than the tradition of strict metrication. It is tempting to say that the alternative styles represented in CH4 could never have been imagined 75 years ago; yet even then, voices were being raised that questioned the ‘fashion of almost slavish adherence to metrical forms of praise, which to this day governs congregational singing’, and which lays the blame for this firmly at the door of Scottish devotion to the Metrical Psalter. While the austere simplicity of the ancient psalm tunes may represent ‘the sound of communion’, it may just be that we have ‘made the mistake of making our Church praise too severe.’

Finally, it is easy, from the perspective of over seventy-five years' distance, to be critical of the publications of our forebears. But it also has to be recognised that the perfect book of praise has never been produced, and that the very idea remains a theological, as well as a musical impossibility. While the Scottish Psalter (1929) may be a monument to its time, it is still capable of rendering useful service to the churches of the Reformed tradition, and of exercising a positive influence on the compilation of new books of praise. It is therefore much too early for us to allow this landmark edition of the early twentieth century to be consigned to oblivion.

Graham Deans


1. To which is appended the Scripture Paraphrases of 1781.

2. Contemporary composers in 1929 whose work has been represented in hymnals, but not the Scottish Psalter, would have included R Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), the Shaw brothers, Martin (1875-1958) and Geoffrey (1879-1943), Basil Harwood (1859-1949), Walford Davies (1869-1941), Gustav Holst (1874-1934), Edward Elgar (1857-1934), Henry G Ley (1887-1962) and Kenneth Finlay (1882-1974). Of these, only the last was Scottish.

3. W B Ross’s descant to CRIMOND.

4. See his comments in his Psalms of Patience, Protest and Praise (1993), p 25, and also the directions in Common Ground (1998), No 20.

5. Common Ground (1998), No 18.

6. Common Ground (1998), No 68.

7. Common Ground (1998), No 150.

Hymns in a Man’s Life by Kenneth Lysons

(submitted prior to his death in October 2005)

An essay under the above title by D.H. Lawrence (1885- 1930) author of novels including The Rainbow, Sons and Lovers, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover begins:

Nothing is more difficult than to determine what a child takes in and does not take in of its environment and teaching. This fact is brought home to me by the hymns which I learned as a child, and never forgot. They mean to me more than the finest poetry, and they have for me a permanent value, somehow or other.

This essay refers to seven hymns and one carol learned or heard between sixty-one and seventy-five years earlier which, in Lawrence’s words, ‘had such a profound influence on my youthful consciousness that there has been no crystallizing out, no dwindling into actuality, no hardening into the commonplace. They are the same and more to my man's experience as they were all those years ago’. (Kenneth Lysons continues) My introduction to hymnology was through the Primitive Methodist Sunday School Hymnal first published in 1899. Two hymns regularly sung at the Bridge St. Golborne Primitive Methodist Sunday School made a lasting impression: ‘A Little Kingdom I Possess’ (190) and ‘Father, lead me day by day’ (40). Part of the first and the last verse of the former by Louisa May Alcott (1822-1888) of Little Women fame are:

A little kingdom I possess
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard I find the task
Of governing it well.
I do not ask for any crown
But that which all may win;
Nor try to conquer any world
Except the one within;
Be thou my Guide until I find,
Led by a tender hand;
Thy happy kingdom in myself
And dare to take command

In later life the concept of the kingdom within has become increasingly precious especially as expressed by Charles Wesley:

Jesus, if still the same Thou art.
If all thy promises are sure,
Set up thy kingdom in my heart
And make me rich for I am poor;
To me be all thy treasures given,
The kingdom of an inward heaven.

I believe that in a secular society there is a great yearning for that ‘inward heaven’ that the churches are failing to satisfy.

Unlike Louise Alcott, little is known of John Page Hopps, but his hymn ‘Father lead me day by day’, still appears in several contemporary collections. Two verses of the hymn have seen me through some of life’s difficult times:

When I’m tempted to do wrong
Make me steadfast, wise and strong;
And when all alone I stand,
Shield me with thy mighty hand.

When my work seems hard and dry
May I press on cheerily;
Help me patiently to bear
Pain and hardship, toil and care.

Hymns were not only learned in Sunday School. At the Church of England school where I began my education the day began and ended with a hymn, frequently the morning and evening hymns written by Thomas Ken (1637-1711) ‘For the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College’. At the time I probably paid little attention to the words but in later life I often experience a sense of exhilaration when greeting a new day with the words:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Throughout the day couplets from the hymn have provided guidance:

Let all thy converse be sincere,
Thy conscience as the noon day clear;
Direct, control, suggest this day
All I design, or do or say

And at the day’s end, I can lie down in peace with the words:

O may my soul on Thee repose,
And may sweet sleep mine eyelids close;
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.

The fifth hymn, or rather carol, is one that I have only heard sung once. At about the age of ten I was taken to a concert at the Leigh Girls Grammar School and heard a choir sing Stewart Wilson’s Carol of Beauty:

Praise to the Lord, who made all beauty
For all our senses to enjoy;
Owe we our humble thanks and duty
That simple pleasures’ never cloy;
Praise we the Lord who made all beauty
For all our sense to enjoy

I know nothing of Stewart Wilson and the carol appears, to my knowledge, only in The Oxford Book of Carols and Songs of Praise. I am, of course, aware of the opposite view, well expressed by Monty Python’s parody of all things bright and beautiful:

All things dull and ugly
All creatures short and squat
All things rude and nasty
The Lord God made the lot.

Nevertheless I have always had a strong sense of God’s immanence and an empathy with Robert Bridges’ lines: ‘I love all beauteous things,/I seek and adore them’.

The ability to discern ‘the Lord who made all beauty’ in ‘Heaven and Earth and sea and sky’ is, however, largely conditional on a profound truth expressed in the lines of another hymn no longer sung: ‘The outward God he findeth not,/ Who finds not God within’.

Two hymns from the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book encountered in early adolescence influence me still. Both are omitted from Hymns and Psalms. The first, ‘Lord and saviour, true and kind/ Be the master of my mind’; (868) was written by Handley Carr Glyn Moule (1841-1920) who after a brilliant academic career became Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge and Chaplain to the Bishop of Liverpool. The hymn was first published in the Council School Hymn Book (1905) and also included in the Methodist Church School Hymn Book (1950). The hymn has grown on me over the years as I have become increasingly engaged in academic activities. On most mornings when arriving at my desk I use the second verse as a prayer:

While I ply the scholar’s task,
Jesus Christ, be near I ask;
Help the memory, clear the brain,
Knowledge still to seek and gain.

I have also a great love for Rudyard Kipling’s poem/hymn ‘Land of our birth we pledge to thee/ Our love and toil in the years to be’ (899). The hymn is regarded by many as nationalistic. I would defend it however on the grounds that there is a profound distinction between nationalism and patriotism. Nationalism is mindless loyalty to a nation, whether it is right or wrong. Patriotism is a genuine love for country that is not blind to the nation's sins. Because I love my country I can empathise with people of other nationalities who have an equal love and pride for their countries. Moreover, as never before we need to recover an awareness of duties, responsibilities and values in a democratic society:

Teach us to look, in all our ends,
On thee for Judge, and not our friends;
That we, with thee, may walk uncowed
By fear or favour of the crowd.

Teach us the strength that cannot seek
By deed or thought to hurt the weak;
That under this we may possess
Man’s strength to succour man’s distress.

Teach us delight in simple things,
And mirth that hath no bitter springs;
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And love to all men ‘neath the sun.

I have described the influence of one other hymn elsewhere:

Above all God was love. We were reminded of this so often in sermons that the statement could easily become a platitude …when I was thirteen, however, an incident changed the platitude into an experience. One glorious spring evening my parents and I arrived home from chapel. For some reason, I remained outside after my parents had gone indoors. The sun was setting, a glorious ball of fire in the West. The last line of the closing hymn, ‘Sun of my soul; Thou saviour dear’ echoed in my mind: ‘Till in the ocean of Thy love/We lose ourselves in heaven above’.

Suddenly I knew what the lines meant. I had a vivid sense of being enfolded by God’s love - at that moment I knew peace, joy and security. Psychologists might dismiss the experience as the heightened religious consciousness of early adolescence but the fact is that nearly seventy years later the experience is still vivid and inspiring. In the intervening years I have known intellectual doubt, war, suffering and some of life's darker places. Nothing, however, has shaken the certitude of that spring evening that the ultimate reality is love. When the lamp of faith has burned dim, I have always managed to keep the flame aglow. Because of that evening, I have always been able to declare with Browning’s Paracelsus: ‘God Thou art love I build my faith on that’.

I would end this essay with two comments. In his essay Lawrence, expressed gratitude that the Scotch minister of the Nottingham Congregational Church he attended as a boy had ‘a healthy preference for healthy hymns’. I believe those listed above can all be categorised as ‘healthy hymns’. I also acknowledge that what has influenced me will not necessarily influence others and that it is often necessary to adapt to different youth cultures, music beats, volume and instruments. There is, however, much to ponder in the observation of a Jewish teacher in the Cambridge Theological federation quoted by Dr. Jane Leach. After a visit to a Christian Church the teacher remarked: ‘Christians often seem to offer their children worship to grow out of whereas we Jews offer our children worship to grow into’. I am grateful that, especially through its hymnology, much of what I experienced in my formative years was worship to grow into.

Kenneth Lysons


1. The essay can be found in Reeves, J. (Ed.), Great English Essays, Cassell, 1961, pp 361-366

2. See Hymn No. 529, Hymns and Psalms

3. See Hymn No. 632 and 642, Hymns and Psalms

4. Oxford Book of Carols 1956, No. 164

5. Baker, K., (Ed.), Unauthorised Versions, Faber and Faber 1990, p.3

6. See any collections of Bridges poems

7. Hymn 281, Methodist Hymn Book, verse 3

8. C. K. Lysons, A Little Primitive, Church in the Marketplace Publications, Buxton 2001, Chapter 6, pages 147-148

9. See Methodist Recorder 22 Jan 2004

A Higher Gift Than Grace by Leslie Ivory

(A transcript of comments made at the Hymn Society Conference of 2005 in Chester)

In Andrew Pratt’s book O for a thousand tongues there are references to the controversy concerning the inclusion or exclusion of ‘Praise to the holiest in the height’ in the Methodist Hymn Book of 1933. it was unthinkable to some Evangelicals that there should be ‘a higher gift than grace’. On the other hand, a certain Sydney B. Gregory had written to the Methodist Recorder bemoaning the omission of the hymn just because it was ‘offensive to evangelicalism on the grounds that there could not be a higher gift than grace’. Apparently the debate ran on in subsequent editions of the Methodist Recorder but eventually the hymn was included in the Methodist Hymn Book.

It was the distinguished theologian, Peter Taylor Forsyth, in The Church and the Sacraments who first asked the question ‘How can there be a higher gift than grace?’

Grace is truly amazing. God offers his sheer, generous favour to men and women who don’t deserve it. It is a quality, an attribute, of the personality of God. It is God’s nature to be gracious and kind, loving and generous and to offer his favour and forgiveness to us. But Newman’s thought implies that, wonderful as these outpourings of grace may be, God offers something even more wonderful. He gives his very self, and no-one can give more than that. The Incarnation is the higher gift than grace. God gives something more than the traits of his character: he gives himself in Jesus Christ, the second Adam, who to the rescue came.

In a letter to me about another hymn Eric Routley mentions Newman’s hymn:

As for ‘Praise to the Holiest’, I am convinced from the context in Gerontius, that verse 4 refers to the Incarnation and not to the Eucharist. But it makes many people angry.

Most of the mainstream books print the hymn as Newman wrote it though some put an asterisk against verse 4 indicating that it may be omitted; some omit the verse and one puts a semi-colon after ‘should flesh and blood refine’.

I plead with hymn book editors not to omit the verse, but if they have conscientious scruples about it, may I suggest that they follow Baptist Praise and Worship and Sing Glory where the line reads ‘the highest gift of grace’.

Leslie Ivory

From time to time those of us who compose or write are challenged by other people. Sometimes we need to be. I hope that the two brief articles which follow will be taken in that spirit. Perhaps you will even respond to them! (Editor)

Singing in Australia by Rex Hunt (An extract from Our Landscape Is: Shaping Contemporary Australian ‘Sunday Morning’ Experiences)

(Based on an oral presentation at West End Uniting Church, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia: August 2005; Revised and expanded: November 2005).

Our hills are not silent but shout tall
Our rivers sing their own song to southern seas… (Best 2005).

How can we sing in a strange land… when the Spring festival of new life called Easter ‘down under’ comes in Autumn, the season of little deaths, when leaves turn gold, fall, and the grass has turned from green to brown? Or when the warmth of Christmas is not from some domestic fire in an iron grate, but from the sun high overhead - 38 degrees Celsius and rising?

We believe what we sing. Hymns are religious artefacts created to allow us to speak of our experience of the sacred. ‘A hymn is not written to be sung once but rather a hundred times’ (John Bell 2000). To become part of the familiar, often-used tradition of a living religion. But that is also reason why it is very important to sing new songs/hymns and appropriate ones at that, because those same hymns weren’t written to be sung for a hundred years! Our perceptions and experience of the sacred, change. And so too should what we say and sing.

The person who has taught me a lot about hymn singing is John Bell from the Iona Community. He rightly points out, I feel, that we are in danger of developing a 'sloppy' relationship with Jesus unless we can be honest in our theological imagining.

For our age and time, many of the contemporary hymns by Shirley Murray and Bill Wallace (NZ) and Andrew Pratt for example, enable a fuller theological expression and experience. Three resources which appeal to me are: Alleluia Aotearoa and Faith Forever Singing - both coming from a New Zealand landscape, and Andrew Pratt’s fine collection called Whatever Name or Creed. While general landscape and/or ecological examples from two other resources yet to be explored more fully, can be found in Singing the living tradition and Singing the journey - both out of the Unitarian/ Universalist tradition in the USA.

Listen to some of these hymn fragments I resonate with, and in your imagination picture the scene:

O river mother, spirit of creation,
flowing so freely since the dawn of time,
source of all life and onward propagation,
summer’s bright warmth and winter’s frozen rime.
Andrew Pratt (Unpublished)

Sing to the God of change,
chaos, and fine design;
hallow the ordered forms
filled with the life divine.
In God the universe is one
and sings the hymn which God first sung!
William Wallace

God of our every day,
friend who will walk our way,
light who can change the focus
of our seeing:
capture our heart and mind,
be in the work we find,
till all we do becomes
your mode of being.
Shirley Murray

Shaping a distinctive Australian theology is a recurring problem for us in Australia generally, and for those of us who have the communication task of shaping the ‘Sunday morning’ worship experience, specifically. Especially when we are invited, if not expected, to follow a Lectionary and liturgical year shaped in the main by natural European/northern hemisphere seasons, as well as ‘reflecting an ancient cosmology that is no longer credible’ (Shuck 2005).

(Perhaps this reflection has something to say to us in the Northern Hemisphere as we seek to write in our present age and context. Ed.)

Rex A E Hunt

Your Starter for Ten by Andrew Pratt

A few years ago Albert L. Blackwell published a book entitled The Sacred in Music, (The Lutterworth Press, 1999, ISBN 0 7188 2997 2). In it he explored the Pythagorean concept of musical structure, the overtone series and the nature of harmony and placed this against an incarnational view of music in which what is heard is as important as the structure on which the sound is built. Putting aside the technicalities Blackwell argues that all music is sacred and has the potential to be sacramental in the sense that it can be a vehicle for God’s grace.

His exploration caused him to examine the place of silence, including reference to works such as John Cage’s 4’33”. Atonal compositions of Schoenberg and the minimalism of Erik Satie were acknowledged. He made a clear distinction between trance and ecstasy in response to musical stimuli. Blackwell faced up to the implied accusation that the structure which he perceives in music is a Western aberration by reference to those musical forms which seemed to be furthest removed from Western Pythagorean analysis. He acknowledged that Korean musical grammar ‘is totally different from that of any other country’ yet, he argued, is dependent ‘on the identity of the octave’, its traditional instrument, the Karagam, being usually tuned pentatonically.

Now what is the point of all this to those of us for whom hymns are a prime concern?

As a text writer, and with due deference to those who have set my own material, I wonder sometimes whether we are so straight-jacketed by our presuppositions as to what is musically acceptable in worship that we do not always use all the devices that are at our disposal in the composition of our music. Blackwell suggests that different modes and, indeed, different styles of music, have intrinsically unique effects on the human psyche. If this is so then the choice and composition of music goes far beyond recognising what ‘fits the words’ in a metrical sense. In saying this I do not simply suggest that the music ought to fit the mood of the words. That ought to go without saying. What I am suggesting is that an understanding of the effects of music can enable the composer to work in ways far beyond our normal appreciation.

I once bemoaned the fact that the editors of the Methodist Hymn Book of 1933 did not take account of the tenor of music generated during the First World War in setting or even writing texts:

There is comfort to be found in those things that are familiar and safe. Music which had provided a sense of security in the past was easy to hold on to, while the new atonal compositions which, though having their origin before the war, were particularly suited to respond to the chaotic, were harder to assimilate and, in many ways, less fitted for hymnody.

Perhaps I was asking for the impossible but Blackwell suggests that music has a transcendent dimension, ‘music is a gift of God’s special grace’. That is crucial. He was willing to listen to the music of Brahms and John Coltrane, Hildegard of Bingen and Heavy Metal, Chinese Bells and Bartok; yet at the same time he was careful to apply aesthetic principles to his analysis and criticised the vacuity of the tune ‘I am the bread of life’, while recognising that congregations are more likely to be split over arguments concerning their ‘bland denominational hymnals’ than over the importation of an exotic melody.

So where does this leave us? If music is such a powerful medium, and I believe it to be, are we providing the most effective and affective musical settings for hymns that are possible? If not then we are, arguably, not allowing music to be the sacramental vehicle it was intended to be, to enhance the human response to the divine. Come on musicians, what do you think?

Andrew Pratt


1. Pratt, Andrew, O for a thousand tongues, Epworth, Peterborough, 2004.


Christian Hymns new edition 2004, published by The Evangelical Movement of Wales, Bryntirion, Bridgend, South Wales; Music Edition ISBN: 1850490171, £18.50; Words Edition ISBN: 1850492077, £7.95.

Christian Hymns first appeared in 1977, with a revised edition mainly adding tunes and helps to the users in 1985. It is still proving useful in its constituency and so a wholly new edition has been produced in 2004. It is in some ways a narrow constituency, as the title of the publishers indicates, though churches that respond to this description are often well attended, and the circulation of the book has been world-wide. Unlike some groups that use such titles who can blacklist authors, and even publishers, these editors claim to look at each hymn ‘on its biblical, spiritual and poetic merit, irrespective of the background of the author’. For myself I have to say that I have often turned to this book for hymns that are hard to find elsewhere, and those extra verses other hymnals omit, to say nothing of the worth of its invaluable Companion of 1993 compiled by Cliff Knight.

The 1977 edition was reviewed in detail by Bernard Massey in Bulletin 154 (May 1982). Since the new edition prints the 1977 Preface, five close printed pages, with only two pages of preface to the new edition, there has been clearly no change of course, and I feel able to refer readers back to that review, much of which I would otherwise simply have to repeat. Bernard Massey summed up his view of the book as ‘conservative - in theology, in its selection of hymns, and it its linguistic style’. Only the last of these has changed.

He asked of that book ‘what’s new?’ and this is of course the question that is bound to be raised about a new edition, and the one I shall address in this review.

In the preface to the new edition the editors explain that 190 little used hymns have been dropped from the old edition and over 200 added. This gives a hefty total of 942 hymns over against the 901 of the old. Despite this the book is not too large to handle, being printed on thin paper and with a traditional approach to layout that can allow three hymns on one opening. The new edition is in a much more elegant print style for both words and music.

A section noticeably shortened is that of Hymns and Songs for Children, cut from 29 to 15. The late 19th century predominates still, with some of the ‘traditional’ children’s hymns that one suspects that adults remember with nostalgia, rather than because they are really suitable for children. One very suspect item, that I would hesitate to have sung even by adults without putting it into a very clear context, is ‘I often say my prayers,/ But do I really pray?’. In the Preface the editors do note that there are ‘many churches ceasing to use such hymns’, and they advise that ‘Children can be helped to learn and sing some of the great hymns of the church’. Would that all who teach children noted this!

They also draw attention to the section of 37 Songs and Choruses ‘for those who like to make use of these items’, but that does not mean that worship song is absent from the rest of the book. A test case would seem to be Graham Kendrick, who was not represented in the 1977 book, but now has 11, all in the body of the book. He is not the only writer of the genre to appear, Stuart Townend has 6, but the book is certainly not flooded with such material.

The major difference in the new book to which the editors draw attention is the ‘measure of modernization of the linguistic forms in which the hymns are expressed’. They thus adopt a ‘You’ for ‘Thou’ policy throughout whenever possible - an eminently sensible approach, and they retain archaic forms for some classics. So they sing still ‘Thou, O Christ art all I want;/ more than all in Thee I find’. They do not even mention the matter of gender sensitivity.

They point to an increase in the number of psalm versions. These are scattered throughout the book according to their subject matter, but are given a useful list at the beginning of the book. This shows that 64 psalms are represented, many in more than one version. Some of these are new: Graham Deans, for example, has 4, and Sing Psalms from the Free Church of Scotland has 6.

Coming to the book from a more liberal background, and as a keen participator in the Hymn Explosion of the last decades I am bound, in asking the question ‘What’s new?’, to look for that kind of hymnody. Timothy Dudley-Smith has 16, where in 1977 he had one only. Margaret Clarkson comes next with 10, James Seddon 7, both from none in the earlier book. No one else comes near. Christopher Idle has 2 as do Michael Saward and Michael Perry. It is good to find Rosamund Herklots’ ‘Forgive our sins as we forgive’ and Edward Burns’ ‘We have a gospel to proclaim’. There is no Cosnett, Kaan or Wren, nor even, to my surprise, Bayly or Pratt Green. Clearly these writers probe too far for these editors, who want to express their faith dogmatically and in largely the traditional terms. This is a constituency that can still sing ‘There is a fountain filled with blood.’, and like new hymns that begin with ‘and’ as in Eluned Harrison’s ‘And are our sins forgiven’.

They are not insensitive to the demands of that constituency. If I read them aright they have felt the need to include the tune REPTON, which we have come to know through Whittier’s ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’. I find it difficult to see what objection they might have to those words, which have a good biblical background, though it is not a hymn for all occasions or all moods. (They do not in fact have any of the more liberal American 19th century writers, despite that assertion that they make no blanket judgements on sources.) But to return to REPTON. They set to it a text by Colin P Goldsworthy ‘My hope is fixed on God alone’, I would guess written for the tune, though the thin vowel ‘fixed’ is not good on the little melisma in the first line. (Would not ‘I fix my hope on God alone’ have been better?) There are six verses of impeccable orthodoxy, each beginning with the same line, and each pointing to a source of assurance guaranteed by a scriptural quotation or allusion. The verses are quite well put together, though all a little wooden. In two instances the rime scheme fails. There is little if any sense of development through the hymn. One could shuffle the verses round without much damage. It would be interesting to know if it makes any headway.

Searching for other new texts I find little to interest me. When in turning the pages I am struck by a verse or a phrase, I usually find that it is from an older hymn with which I am not familiar - one of the strengths of the book is that there are many such. Typical of the book is a new text by one of the editors, Graham Harrison. It is on the incarnation ‘See he lies there in the manger’, but is very definitely a hymn and not a carol with the element of the fanciful that that implies, though ‘Hands almighty, now lie helpless/ round his mother’s finger curled;’ have a sense of intimacy not present elsewhere and are an example of the way the text points to the great paradox of the incarnation - ‘Made a man for man’s salvation’. Stock words and phrases abound: the wise men’s gifts are ‘so rare’, and the maiden is inevitably ‘lowly’. There has to be a verse on the crucifixion. I much doubt the wisdom of setting these words to the Welsh lullaby SUO GAN, blown up to, but with its gently rocking rhythm retained. The Welsh know better than to use this as a hymn tune.

In fact the tunes do not require much fresh comment. There are a few tunes new to the book, one from Noel Tredinnick, two from Andrew Maries, five from Norman Warren. The other new tunes seem to hark back, like so many of the new texts, to earlier generations. The surprise to me was to see Erik Routley’s ABINGDON alongside SAGINA for ‘And can it be’. The editors are not convinced of the merit of COE FEN for ‘How shall I sing that majesty’.

This new edition clearly moves forward, but firmly within the tradition of the earlier book. Perhaps after all the editors take the attitude of the parson who, when reproved for preaching the same cycle of sermons every five years replied that when the people started taking notice of those he would write some new ones. I would hope that congregations using this book are also searching and adventuring into the many more challenging contemporary hymns that are now so easily available.

Alan Luff

CD Reviews

Favourite Hymns from Wells Cathedral (GCCD 4010); Favourite Hymns from Oxford (GCCD 4047); Favourite Hymns - Westminster Abbey Choir (GCCD 4018). Griffin CDs are distributed by Regis, Southover House, Tolpuddle, Dorchester, DT2 7HF. Tel: 01305-848983 (www.reaisrecords.co.uk) £13.99.

Griffin and Company specialise in church music, and they have issued three CDs of hymn-singing.

Favourite Hymns from Wells Cathedral (GCCD 4010) was recorded before the series for Hyperion, previously reviewed, and is distinct from it in that some of the hymns here feature the Wells Cathedral School Brass Ensemble.

The Wells choir is on fine form - boys, girls and men - and speeds tend to be faster than on the Westminster Abbey disc, discussed below. Richard R Webster’s brass arrangements for tunes such as LOBE DEN HERREN, HELMSLEY, CWM RHONDDA and SINE NOMINE are superbly executed by these amateur players (no doubt reinforced by their teachers), and the well-balanced recording splendidly captures the overall sound.

These arrangements venture into a harmonic world beyond that of the hymn on which they are based, as do some of the last verse arrangements of other hymns. Largely these will bring pleasure, I think, although I did wonder whether the link to the final verse of The Lord’s my Shepherd had not overstepped the mark. Overall an exciting disc, well worth acquiring. The choir is directed by Malcolm Archer, and the organ is excellently played by Rupert Gough.

Favourite Hymns from Oxford (GCCD 4047) features Christ Church Cathedral Choir under Stephen Darlington. The repertoire here is distinct from both the other discs in this review, and the style of performance is rather different too.

Those who do not know Oxford may not realise that the cathedral is in fact the college chapel of Christ Church, and it has a rather unforgiving acoustic. In the past the cathedral choir has frequently recorded elsewhere in Oxford, but on this occasion the excellent Lance Andrews has captured a fine sound in the cathedral itself, finding more resonance than one would have believed possible, enabling us to enjoy the distinctive sound of the Christ Church organ!

The boys rather take a back seat here, and many hymns are sung by the men alone - Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, Glory be to Jesus and Jesu, Lover of my Soul for instance. This choice of repertoire is apposite, and the four-part harmony created by altos, tenors, baritones and basses in Stephen Darlington’s sensitive arrangements is admirable. Angus Wilson’s lovely solo voice in Nearer my God to Thee gives considerable pleasure. In unison singing the ensemble sound of the tenors and basses on the one hand, and the altos on the other is quite admirable. (Try Let us with a gladsome mind, for instance.)

Howard Goodall offers much richer harmony in his arrangements of Morning has broken, which I enjoyed, and When I survey the wondrous cross, which seemed to me to cross that indefinable line between the tasteful and the inappropriate, beautiful though both harmonies and performance are. All is redeemed by the disc’s final track: Goodall’s simple and effective arrangement of the African hymn Nkosi Sikelel’ i Africa, sung with evident enjoyment by the choir.

Ralph Allwood contributes fanfare introductions to several items, and a descant which is sung to Ah by the boys. I have my doubts about this, since the text of the hymn is somewhat obscured, but the descant itself is well conceived. (A further descant by Stephen Darlington is treated similarly, so this may well be the conductor’s choice.)

Overall this is a distinctive disc of hymn-singing. It will not appeal to all tastes, and some may join me in feeling that some hymns here are simply too long and would have benefited from a cut in verses - Onward Christian Soldiers and All Glory Laud and Honour both go on for over five minutes. But the unusual treatment of certain hymns will be an attraction particularly to those who already possess discs of traditional hymns.

With Favourite Hymns - Westminster Abbey Choir (GCCD 4018) we return to a big sound in a generous acoustic. The disc’s subtitle ‘A popular selection of old favourites beautifully sung by the Choir’ well describes both the menu on offer and the standard of performance.

The hymns have evidently been prepared with great care, and phrasing, always felicitous, is particularly so at potentially awkward moments. (The stately speeds help here, but there is always a sense of forward movement.)

The boys, who sound slightly older than those from Christ Church Oxford, give a superb account of themselves throughout, most especially when singing a solo verse, as in Dear Lord and Father of mankind or a descant, of which there are several examples here. All are worth hearing, not least those of Martin Neary who conducts the choir and contributes descants to BLAENWERN, ST. ANNE, GERONTIUS and WESTMINSTER ABBEY. Martin also offers his own arrangement of Make me a channel of your peace which is most attractive.

The disc comes to a thrilling conclusion with Hubert Parry’s original setting of O praise ye the Lord from his anthem Hear my words, ye people, complete with echoing Amens.

With immaculate organ accompaniment from Martin Baker, now Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, this is a self-recommending disc which serves as a reminder of the lovely sound of Westminster Abbey choir under Martin Neary’s direction.

John Barnard


Kenneth Lysons

Kenneth Lysons who died in St Helens a few days before his 82nd birthday was an occasional contributor to this Bulletin. I first met him in 1996 when we worked together on a booklet entitled Parson, Padre and Poet to commemorate the life of Robert Wilfred Callin (1886- 1951). In 2001 I had the privilege of publishing A Little Primitive. In this book Kenneth gives the reader both a macro and micro study of the life cycle of Primitive Methodism from its inception in 1811 to its demise in 1932. The micro study provides fascinating insights into the beliefs, the ethics, worship and relationships of Primitive Methodists, near to Wigan in Lancashire, during the inter-war years. It was in this area that Kenneth spent most of his early life on a small farm, known as Boundary Farm, between Lowton and Golborne. In his family home Kenneth always remembered there were five main topics of conversation, all of them beginning with C:

Chickens - because they had a lot of them.
Crops - because theirs never seemed to pay.
Civil War - because his father was a staunch Puritan and admirer of Cromwell while young Kenneth supported the Royalists.
Cricket - because his father believed it was such a good game that only God could have invented it.
Chapel - because it was the source of all that was best in life.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 Kenneth volunteered for the Royal Air Force and passed all the examinations to become an Air Crew Cadet. A subsequent medical, however, revealed a progressive hearing defect which prevented him from taking his Air Crew duties. There followed work on the family farm and eleven years in industry, eventually specialising in purchasing at an engineering firm in Golborne. This sparked a continuing interest in purchasing which resulted in the writing of his book Purchasing and Supply Chain Management which was first published in 1981 and by 2005 had passed through seven editions including translations into Chinese, Russian and Polish.

In his early thirties Kenneth embarked on a programme of advanced education which eventually equipped him to become, from 1971-84, Head of the Department of Business and Administrative studies at St Helens College of Technology. Despite a heavy workload he made time to study at Liverpool University for a Master of Arts degree in Social Sciences. This included a thesis on voluntary societies for deaf people. By this time Kenneth’s own hearing had been restored following two successful operations. Later he obtained both Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy degrees and other professional qualifications.

A Methodist local preacher since the age of 17, Kenneth was accepted as a senior candidate for the Methodist ministry in 1980. He was ordained in 1984 and served in the St Helens circuit where he continued to be active beyond official retirement. Kenneth put a high premium on preaching and beautifully constructed forms of worship, always paying special attention to the choice of hymns. He was in great demand to conduct funeral services and made every effort to personalise each one. His sensitive approach to the bereaved before, during and after the funeral was an example of pastoral care at its best.

Administrative skills were put to good use in his ministry. As Chair of Governors at Nutgrove Methodist School from 1989 he saw the need for a new building and set out to raise the money required. By the time the school was opened in 1997 Kenneth had inspired Governors, staff, parents and supporters to raise 15% of the one and a half million pounds required.

Kenneth was a prolific writer on a variety of subjects. He wrote twenty books including the History of the London Chamber of Commerce Education Scheme, three books on hearing loss and others already mentioned in this tribute. He had over 250 articles published and was working to the end on several uncompleted manuscripts. He believed that the questioning mind was integral to authentic Christian faith and desired that his epitaph should read ‘He died learning’.

In April 2003 Kenneth contributed to this Bulletin an article entitled ‘Hymns for Spring’. Among many other quotations he included the first verse of Robert Wilfrid Callin’s hymn about spring. The last verse of that hymn speaks of those ‘who toiled and dreamed to build thy Kingdom here’. Kenneth can surely be counted in their number.

Throughout 59 years of married life together Audrey was his great support and encouragement. Their home life was enriched by a daughter, two sons and five grandchildren.

Robert Davies

Howard R. Stringer

Howard R. Stringer was born on May 26, 1915. He was a graduate of Germantown High School and of the University of Pennsylvania. Howard trained in chemical engineering and worked as a chemist for Mobil Oil Company for six years, Bendix for three years and Rohm and Haas for 39 years. One of the most notable attributes of Howard Stringer was his deep love for choral music, which led to his singing in a number of choirs since high school. He joined the choir at Second Baptist Church in 1943 and the Oratorio Choir in 1970. A favourite vacation activity of Howard's has been to attend church music conferences and workshops from 1954 till this past Autumn. Composing and arranging hymn tunes has been a continuing avocation and has resulted in his membership in the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada since 1952 and the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland since 1985 Howard was active in the Philadelphia Chapter of the Hymn Society of America between 1952 and 1983, serving as president for several terms. Attending annual conferences of the two societies made it possible for Howard to meet many of the leading writers of hymn texts and tunes on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Other hobbies included reading light mysteries and playing tennis.

Howard died on 25th December. He was predeceased by his wife Faith and his son Fred. He is survived by his two children, Hope and Jack, and a host of family, friends and church members. His Memorial Service took place on 31st December 2005.

Received via Gillian Warson

Tailpiece - Correction

The Tailpiece in the October Bulletin has generated further correspondence and I have been asked to make a correction which I will do most willingly, together with my apologies if people have been misinformed or misled.

The six stanza extract from ‘The Brewing of Soma’ by John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’ was first printed as a hymn in Congregational Hymns (1884) and not in The Congregational Church Hymnal. The former was a private enterprise collection by W. Garrett Horder, the latter the official denominational hymn book which followed three years later. This was edited by George Barrett who knew Horder’s book and took a number of items from it including ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’ with ‘feverish ways’, rather than foolish ways as the text.

Readers are referred to Bulletin 167 where Bernard Massy wrote at length on this hymn. (Ed.)


John Barnard, a secondary school language teacher by profession, has been active in church music throughout his life, and is currently Director of Music at John Keble Church, Mill Hill. He is more widely known as a composer and arranger of liturgical music, most particularly of hymn tunes.

Robert Davies is a Methodist Minister and the publisher of Robert Wilfred Callin (1886 - 1951) Parson, Padre, Poet and A Little Primitive - Primitive Methodism from macro and micro perspectives, both by Kenneth Lysons and available from Church in the Market Place Publications, 93, Lockerbie Close, Cinnamon Brow, Warrington, WA2 OLT.

Graham S. Deans is currently studying for D.Min. He is a Church of Scotland Minister and has worked in may different parishes most recently in South Ronaldsay & Burray (Orkney). He has written several articles and reviews. He was a Plenary Speaker at International Hymn Society Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2003, on ‘The Development of Metrical Psalmody in Scotland’.

Rex A E Hunt is a Uniting Church minister in Australia, in placement in Canberra (ACT) and director of The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought. His web site is: www.rexaehuntprogressive.com

Leslie Ivory, is a retired minister of the URC having had pastorates in Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Birmingham and Suffolk.

Alan Luff is Executive Vice-President of the Hymn Society and the writer of a number of hymn texts and tunes. He is also Vice President Guild of Church Musicians and Vice president of the International Fellowship for Hymnology.

Kenneth Lysons, one of our members, who died during October (his obituary appears in this issue).

The Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland

Honorary President: The Archbishop of Canterbury

Executive President: Alan Gaunt
Executive Vice-President: Alan Luff

Editor: Andrew Pratt
Assisted by:
Elizabeth Cosnett and Ian Sharp

Secretary: Robert Canham

Treasurer: Michael Garland

Registered Charity No. 248225

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