‘What does it Mean to Sing a Hymn?’

A collection of new hymn texts by Andrew Pratt

Andrew Pratt
What does it mean to sing a hymn?

What does it mean to sing a hymn?
Are these just empty words of praise?
Or will our lives, transformed, be changed
by what we sing, each measured phrase?

How can a poem sung aloud
affect the way we think and live?
Or tunes sung over verse on verse
inspire us each to freely give?

It seems that hymns and songs provide
a sense of mystery and grace,
that energise us as we sing,
that lift us out of time and place.

They breach the gulf of pain and tears
bring love and grace, erasing wrong.
They grow within, inform our lives:
the taste of words, the ring of song.
© Andrew Pratt 19/7/2017
Metre: LM
Tune: BRESLAU; CAMERONIAN MIDNIGHT HYMN



Dry wit that undergirds prophetic strength,

Dry wit that undergirds prophetic strength,
that puts a camel by a needle’s eye,
is echoed still today when preachers risk
the language set in laughter, or a sigh.

Such language makes a visceral demand
to feel the very essence of our fate,
when humankind distorts the words of grace
to use them as a goad, a tool of hate.

For prophecy attacks this twisted line,
reclaims the grace and love that has been lost,
then charges us to bear the hurt of change,
to take the strain of struggle and its cost.

Through this a laughing faith can be rebuilt,
amid the stress, the sorrow and the tears,
until cold intellect is warmed by grace
with loving fun dispelling all our fears.
© Andrew Pratt 20/7/2017
Metre: 10.10.10.10
Tune: CHILTON FOLIAT



We need another language

We need another language
that we can live on earth,
to move us further forward,
to give the Word new birth;
to live the love of Jesus,
incarnate through our lives.
Aligned with God’s own spirit,
the love of God survives.

But often language mangles
the truth it seeks to serve,
God’s people stagger, stumble:
that’s not what they deserve.
The faith we seek to follow
lies mummified and dead,
the priests no longer offer
the people daily bread.

We need a new translation
unravelling the word,
to weave a way of singing
that does not seem absurd,
a new interpretation,
within the present tense,
that now and in the future
will ring with present sense.
© Andrew Pratt 21/7/2017
Posted on – https://progressivechristianity.org
Tune: 7.6.7.6 D
Tune: DURROW; NYLAND



We stand to sing, the fearful lose their chains

We stand to sing, the fearful lose their chains,
the key might change, yet harmony remains,
for here is love and loving grace will blend
with grace to comfort, strengthen and to mend.

What once we were, now damaged and worn down,
contains the essence of a seed once sown,
a seed, that nurtured, still might rise to life
beyond this hurt and harrowed, faulted strife.

God values every bruised and bending reed;
God sees a nascent flower and not a weed;
and so will raise us up from where we are,
the faintest, feeble spark becomes a star.
© Andrew Pratt 19/7/2017
Metre: 10.10.10.10
Tune: HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL



When theology unnerves

When theology unnerves
those who seek a mythic past,
are there echoes of the Christ
shaking faith that it might last?

Turning tables upside down,
spinning values, thought as good,
prophets still disturb ideas
shaking ground on which we stood.

Superstitious grasp must cease,
stark distortions sweep away
mining deeper, seeking love,
grace sufficient for each day.
© Andrew Pratt 18/7/2017
Posted on – https://progressivechristianity.org
Metre: 7.7.7.7
Tune: MONKLAND; SAVANNAH; THEODORA