80 Treasures

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Preface to the 80 Treasures – by Executive President – Ian Sharp

Ten years ago our Executive President, Alan Gaunt, introduced what were then 70 Treasures, articles taken from the pages of the Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. To celebrate our eightieth anniversary we have now expanded the selection to bring it up to date. Most of the material in our Bulletins is still in print, but the Executive Committee decided that it would be a good idea to search through past Bulletins to present these ‘treasures’ in a format which would make them readily available to everyone with an interest in hymns. You will find essays about hymnody, commentaries on texts and tunes, articles about individual hymn writers and hymnologists, reviews of publications, and much more. We hope that readers will find their interest stimulated and be inspired to think again about the place of hymnody in the life and witness of the Church.

The Society’s webpages give an indication of our on-going commitment to our original aims. 80 years on, we are still very much aware that ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ constitute a unique treasury of resources, a treasury which has the potential to enrich our worship and our lives. So, enjoy delving into the pages of these 80 Treasures!


Introduction to the 70 Treasures – David R Wright

The purpose of this re-publication of articles from the Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland is:

  • to fulfil the 4 aims of The Hymn Society
  • to make our collected wisdom available worldwide
  • to raise the profile of hymns and of The Hymn Society
  • to celebrate the 70th birthday of The Hymn Society.

These bulletins provide a unique record of the story of hymns and hymnbooks - but very few people have had access to these articles until now. By placing key articles from each decade on this website, they can now be read by people throughout the world. The selection of articles for re-publication has been undertaken by eight members of the Hymn Society - one for each decade. Every sub-editor has had an ‘embarras de richesses’ from which to choose. We have chosen concise articles, on major themes of continuing relevance - but there are many other articles which deserve to be republished. We may add more articles at a later date - please revisit this website from time to time. The project also gives an opportunity to reflect on the distinctiveness and strengths of the Bulletin. The Hymn Society has been very fortunate in its choice of editors: they have shown wisdom and discernment, firm faith and broad sympathies, and the rare gift of not taking themselves too seriously. The current editor - a Methodist - was appointed in 2004; he is only the fifth editor in 70 years. The first editor was from the Church of Scotland [Presbyterian]; two editors were from the Congregational Church [now the United Reformed Church]; one was from the Church of England. Articles in the Bulletin have covered a wide variety of topics, as the selection on this website illustrates. Many articles defy classification - indeed, the unexpected nature of the contents of each issue is one of the joys of receiving the Bulletin four times a year. Among the types of article can be found the following broad categories:

  • study of a well-known hymnwriter;
  • research into little-known or forgotten hymnwriters;
  • study of hymns of a small denomination [e.g., Moravians; Plymouth Brethren];
  • "where are hymns going?" - from conservative and liberal perspectives;
  • the process of hymn-writing;
  • "hymns on my travels" - word-pictures of the variety of contexts and styles in which hymns are sung;
  • controversial issues in hymnody;
  • hymns as literature;
  • revision of hymn words;
  • hymns in an international context.

Plus there are reviews, obituaries, and conference reports. Another list of articles about aspects of hymn-tunes could also be drawn up. We all hope you find these articles interesting and helpful.


The Treasures

Treasure 01. The Society and its aims ~ An article from Bulletin No 1, October 1937
If you wish to print this out please open the PDF file here.

Treasure 02. A New Hymn-Book in Prospect ~ An article from Bulletin No 3, April 1938
If you wish to print this out please open the PDF file here.

Treasure 03. The War and the Society ~ An article from Bulletin No 9, October 1939
If you wish to print this out please open the PDF file here.