Secretary’s Newsletter 87 Winter 2021

The Secretary’s Newsletter:

No.87: Winter 2021
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 of Gt Britain and Ireland

Conference 2021 Cancelled:

Along with some other organizations, we have reluctantly decided to cancel, once again, our July Conference. With arrangements having to be made very much in advance, and with continuing mixed messages and uncertainty, it is impossible to enter into financial commitments or to plan coherently: a Conference socially spaced, wearing facemasks for the duration, and where singing or holding a Festival of Hymns is not permitted, is a very unattractive prospect.

Alternative Conference options:

Instead, we are considering the following options:

  1. A 2 or possibly 3 Day Conference in late September / early October 2021 (though, if the uncertainty continues, even that would present problems);
  2. A 3 Day Conference (with possibly an optional fourth day) in late March / early April 2022. Potential dates might be commencing Monday 21st March / Monday 28th March /or Monday 4th (Easter Day next year is April 17th). We would then forego the July 2022 Conference.  The next Conference would then take place in July 2023. Therefore, from the beginning of 2021 to the end of 2023, we would be holding two fairly evenly spaced Conferences. In 2024 we would revert to the ‘normal’ July Conference – should we be able to think that far ahead!
  3. A 3 Day Conference (with possibly an optional fourth day) some-time in July 2022, however, we would want to keep clear of the HSUSC International Hymn Conference in Washington which is probably also in July, but we are uncertain of the dates.

The Secretary would welcome hearing from you of your preferences.

Online Mailings only:

Most of the content of our quarterly mailings is also accessible in the Members’ Area of the website. However, we have received occasional requests from members who would welcome online access only in preference to paper through the post. If you would prefer to receive your mailings online only, please contact the Secretary.

Hymn of the Day

Our Hymn of the Day – Advent to Epiphany was, once again, widely appreciated. In the absence of a Conference, we are going to run a further series throughout this coming July. If you would like to be considered to contribute, please contact Janet Wootton:
Email: revjwootton@btconnect.com

Request for Bulletin articles

The Editor of the Bulletin, Andrew Pratt, would welcome suggestions for either full articles or shorter items. If you have something you might be able to contribute, please submit the topic, with a brief synopsis, likely length, and when it might be available, for consideration by Andrew Pratt: Email: andrewpratt48@gmail.com

Request for Occasional Papers

Since the inception of the Society in 1936, there have been some 22 Occasional Papers produced which, between them, range over a rich diversity of hymn-related topics. In recent times we have tried to produce one a year whilst holding several in the planning stage. However, we are presently in a position where we would welcome offers. With an average length of around 15,000 words, Occasional Papers can address hymn-related subjects in greater length and depth than is possible in a Bulletin article.  If you have something you might be able to contribute, please submit the topic, together with a brief synopsis, and when it might be available, for consideration by Martin Leckebusch: Email: martin.leck@zoho.eu

Request for Short Guides

Our Series of Online Short Guides, accessible via the website, now runs to 28 titles. Short Guides have a maximum length of two sides of A4 (the two most recent are included in this mailing). If you have a topic not already covered and would like to contribute, please send your suggestion to Martin Leckebusch: Email: martin.leck@zoho.eu


Our Treasurer, Michael Garland, wishes to thank all those members who have paid their subscription by Standing Order and amended them to the new rate. Most subscriptions are due at the beginning of the year; if yours is one of those and is not yet paid, it would be most helpful if you could do so as soon as possible. It saves a considerable amount of time and expense and is much appreciated!

We welcome new members who recently joined the Society:

Mr Africanus Abaka-Wilson (London)
Revd James Dudley-Smith (Yeovil, Somerset)
Mr Timothy and Mrs Julie Forsdick (Lancaster)
Mr Ronald Holmes (Lancaster)
Mr John Howell (Surrey)
Dr Ray Lester & Ms Sheila Corrall (Malvern, Worcestershire)
Revd Carole R. Marsden (Shrewsbury, Shropshire)
Revd Brian Najapfour (Grand Rapids, USA)
Revd John Paton (Ufton Nervet, West Berkshire)
Mrs Marlene Phillips (Lancaster)
Mr David Rose (Tunbridge Wells, Kent)
Dr David Reynolds (Stillorgan, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND)

We regret having to report the deaths of members:

Mr George Clare (Effingham, Surrey)
Dr Harry Eskew FHS (Macon, Georgia, USA)
Mr Brian Shaw (Dunmurry, Belfast)
Revd Graham Spicer (Stratford-Upon-Avon)

Hymns in strange places

I was recently re-watching a 2007 episode of Doctor Who with David Tennant as ‘The Doctor’ (Series 3, Volume 1 ‘Gridlock’). Interestingly it featured two hymns: The old rugged cross and Abide with me. I have noted previously that hymns often turn up in unexpected places.

And yet another Amazing instance….

In one of the recent University Challenge Quarter Finals, two London teams, King’s College and Imperial College, were competing. The music starter question was to identify the singer of Amazing Grace (Aretha Franklin). The three further questions were to name the singers of three more renderings (Johnny Cash, Jessye Norman and Joan Baez). Jeremy Paxman prefaced the round by announcing that ‘all were recordings from the US Library of Congress’s holdings of over 3,000 versions of Amazing Grace, the largest collection of versions of any song in the entire world.’ What would John Newton have made of that! Imperial College eventually romped home with 265 points. As usual, Jenny and I managed to answer only about five questions between us.

Do not neglect to capitalize the humble Definite Article

If it is not too late, please consider this New Year’s Resolution: It is clear from the Minutes of the time, that from its inception in 1936, the correct title of our Society is: The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Note that the capitalized definite article is part of our title unlike, say, RCM, Royal College of Music, which has no definite article in its title. Yet frequently our Society, even sometimes in our own publications, is addressed as the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, thereby leaving absent from our title the all-important, capitalized definite article. It can sometimes prove problematical: it is not really possible to say: ‘the The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland’! However, please, whilst using your discretion, do not neglect to include the, albeit humble, capitalized definite article!

 ‘Lest we miss your kingdom’s goal’

If you listened to, or watched, the recent Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, did you notice in the Benediction concluding the Inauguration, given by Revd Dr Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Wilmington, Delaware, the words ‘Lest we miss your kingdom’s goal’, a quotation from God of grace and God of glory, written for the opening of the Riverside Church, New York City, by Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969). Fosdick said: it ‘was more than a hymn to me… it was a very urgent personal prayer. For with all my hopeful enthusiasm about the new venture there was inevitably much humble and sometimes fearful apprehension.’ With that sentiment in mind, some may think it was appropriate to include at the beginning of this new Presidency.

A Christmas postscript from Michael Garland

If you watched ‘Songs of Praise’ on 20th December, you will have seen the results of a poll, indicating that O holy night had been voted the UK’s favourite carol. A similar poll conducted by Classic FM also placed this carol in the top spot, for the fifth year running. Most of us will be familiar with O holy night, often sung by a soloist or choir, but where can we find the words and music? After a good deal of searching, I discovered it in Carols Ancient & Modern (2016) at No.67, in an arrangement by John Barnard which was published some years earlier in The RSCM Carol Book. It also features in Christmas Praise: The Carol Book of the Salvation Army (1963). O holy night may not be well-suited to congregational singing, with its lengthy verses and challenging musical compass, but it is clearly loved by many. Second and third places in the BBC poll went to Silent Night and In the bleak mid-winter; both more readily found in hymn books and carol books.

Download a PDF of this document