2020 Winter

Secretary’s Newsletter 83 Winter 2020

The Secretary’s Newsletter:

No.83: Winter 2020
From the Secretary:
Revd Robert A. Canham
CA12 5SZ
Phone: 017687 78054
Email: Please see our Contact page

The Hymn Society Website: www.hymnsocietygbi.org.uk
The Hymn Society’s 2020 Conference

The Application Form with details of this year’s 3-Day Conference, is enclosed. It will be held from mid-day Tues. 14th to Fri. 17th July at the Hallmark Hotel, Leyland, a quality venue, conveniently less than two minutes’ drive from junction 28 of the M6 and 800 metres from the local train station. There will be seven lectures, some sectionals and a short metre session (offers to participate in these latter two would be welcomed by the Secretary). The Festival of Hymns is being held in Blackburn Cathedral with its rather fine organ.

‘Core Hymnody’ at our 2020 Conference

At the Canterbury Conference our Executive Vice-President, Martin Leckebusch, used a sectional to launch a project exploring what hymns we think should be “core” hymnody. Martin’s paper, printed in the October Bulletin, included the full list of around 160 “core” hymns which are already in most of our recent hymn books. However, Martin is still keen to hear from any members who would like to offer other items which they feel should be added to the list. These can be suggested on our website; follow the link from the Home page or the News section (About Us > News).  If you would like to participate but cannot access the website then please contact Martin at 69 Oxstalls Way, Longlevens, GLOUCESTER GL2 9JY. All suggestions no later than 28 February 2020, please!

 Subscription Renewals

Most subscriptions are due for renewal in January. The rate for Members in the UK remains at £22.00 with varying rates for Couples, Mainland Europe, and the Rest of the World. If uncertain what you owe, please get in touch with our Treasurer: Revd Canon Michael Garland, 6 Whimbrel Close, Quedgeley, GLOUCESTER GL2 4LJ

Email: Please use the Treasurer form on our Contact page

We welcome new members who recently joined the Society:

Dr Julia Courtney (Sandown, Isle of Wight)
Mr Peter Kitchin (York)
Revd Peter Michell (Kent)

We regret having to report the deaths of members and friends:

Mr John A. Akroyd (Southport, Merseyside)
Mr Derek Brock (Forest Hill, London)
Mr Martin Ellis (Ipswich, Suffolk)

All have been members over many years and, in their time, regular attendees at our Conferences. Both John’s and Derek’s membership date back to before 1993 and Martin’s to before 1973. John Akroyd was the Society’s Treasurer from 1994-2000.

Martin Ellis will have been to many a much-valued friend and respected colleague. As well as being a stalwart of the Society, serving on our Executive Committee on a number of occasions, he was organist at our Act of Praise in 1986 in Guildford Cathedral marking the 50th Anniversary of the Society, and conductor of the Festival of Hymns in 2006, marking the 70th Anniversary, held at St Martin’s, Dorking, where Martin was Director of Music and Organist for 28 years. Only this last July, Martin delivered a Sectional at our Canterbury Conference and many of us will miss his wit, his wisdom and, sometimes, his acerbic observations!

We are also very sorry to have to report the death of Graham Maule in December. Although not himself a member of the Society, he was a lecturer at our 2004 Edinburgh Conference, speaking on The Wild Goose Resource Group (WGRG) World  View. His collaboration with John Bell was uniquely outstanding. Together, they worked hard at crafting a wholly distinctive page in the annals of contemporary English-language hymnody. That will surely stand as his memorial.

It is also with much sadness that we record the death of Shirley Erena Murray, another writer who has brought to the forefront of hymnody women, peace, justice and the integrity of creation, alongside the distinctive voice of Antipodean hymnody:

Carol our Christmas, an upside down Christmas:
snow is not falling and trees are not bare…

As our Executive President has observed: ‘We are losing some giants of the genre at the moment. Sad times but we are grateful to have known them.’ More extensive obituaries for some of these friends will appear in a future edition of the Bulletin.

The Pratt Green Collection at Durham University

Attention is drawn to an enduring legacy of the life and work of Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000) held at Durham University Library. At the core of the Pratt Green hymnology collection there are his own library and manuscripts, donated in 1987 by the Pratt Green Trust. In the years since, and particularly in the last year or two, many other items, from single volumes to entire personal libraries and archives, have been added by different donors, considerably swelling the size and breadth of the collection. Items date from the 17th century to the present day, in several languages. Many of these donors have been encouraged by Officers of The Hymn Society, and we are deeply grateful to them all. For hymnologists studying at Durham or for visiting researchers – we are open to all – it is a valuable resource, and we would like to raise the profile of the collection and encourage its wider use. It is hoped that an extended article exploring the collection and its strengths will be published in a future Bulletin. The online catalogue may be searched at:


Francis Gotto, Archivist, Durham University Library and Collections:  https://www.dur.ac.uk/library/asc/

Vintage Hymns: Saturday 7th March

Following a successful event at St Gregory’s Church, Sudbury last October, our members, Phil Price and Nicholas Markwell, are holding a similar afternoon at St Mary the Virgin, Elsworthy Road, Primrose Hill, LONDON NW3 3DJ from 2.00 – 5.00 pm on Saturday, 7th March. Called ‘Vintage Hymns’, the aim is to bring the singing of some classic and wonderful hymns back into people’s lives, reminding them of the uplifting pleasure of singing them as they have largely disappeared from schools and some churches. Something between a choir rehearsal and a community sing, the event aims to revive the joys of group harmony singing and is aimed at non-churchgoers as much as churchgoers. The event is free but there will be a retiring collection for the benefit of St Mary’s and their charitable work. This will be of particular interest to those in the London area.

Study Day on Psalms: Saturday 6th June

A study of the book of Psalms, with a chance to sing several, will be held at St. John’s Church, East Dulwich, SE22 9AT on Saturday, June 6th from 10.30 am – 3.30 pm. It will be led by Revd Dr Adam Carlill, Sue O’Neill and John Webber. There will be a cost of about £10-£12.

More information from John Webber on maggieandjohn1@gmail.com

or (020) 8650 9164.

All welcome; lunch provided; booking preferable, but not essential!

Our best wishes to two of our Hon. Vice-Presidents:

Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith has recently moved from Salisbury to Cambridge, and Revd Canon Alan Luff and his wife, Enid, have moved from Rhiwbina to a new home in Cardiff. We wish them every Blessing in their new surroundings.

Search for a Hymn or Song Text: ‘Death, Dying and Song’

The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (HSUSC) is conducting a competition for a theologically rich hymn or song text for congregational singing which engages the themes of death and dying. The search is for a text, whether written for an existing tune or a new musical setting. The writer of the winning entry will receive a $500 prize. Deadline for submission is 15th May 2020.

This search has been inspired by a call for new texts made by Mary Louise Bringle during her lecture Final Breath: Death, Dying, and Song at the HSUSC 2019 Annual Conference. In her presentation she noted the need for new texts engaging the themes of death and dying which have emerged through dialogue with natural and social sciences. Writers are encouraged to read the complete text of this address (published in The Hymn, Volume 70: No.4 [Autumn 2019] copies of which may be obtained from the Secretary). You may also find online a summary of Bringle’s major points as she issued the call for new texts. Writers are encouraged to engage with the themes identified by Mary Louise Bringle in her presentation though texts on death and dying based on other perspectives will be welcome.

Complete information, including guidelines and instructions for submitting entries may be found online at www.thehymnsociety.org

Letter by our member Anne Harrison published in The Times

Sir, How strange that Jerusalem should be voted the nation’s favourite hymn when it was never originally intended to be sung in church. It was created in 1916 for meetings of the Fight for Right movement, which aimed to raise morale in the Great War. The Poet Laureate Robert Bridges sent Blake’s verses to the composer Sir Hubert Parry, whose setting rapidly became a success. However, Parry grew wary of jingoism and in 1917 withdrew his composition from Fight for Right; it was then taken up by the women’s movement. On 12th August 1927, the centenary of Blake’s death, The Times acknowledged that Jerusalem had become “almost a second National Anthem”. Singing “And did those feet in ancient time” is undoubtedly a rousing experience; however, it is the only hymn that opens with four question to which the answer is “No”.