HSGBI Archive – Occasional Papers


This section contains links to the archived Occasional Papers from the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. They are available online to members only. Not a member but would like to become one? Why not subscribe with PayPal and get immediate access to these and more?

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The Constitutes of a Good Hymn: by The Rev William T Cairns DD

The subject which has been appointed for me to open this forenoon may seem at first sight a very simple one, alike for the writer and for those who discuss what he has written. Even the man in the street has his own ideas about a hymn—at least about the kind of hymn which he likes; and the B.B.C., from St Martin’s-in-the-Fields and other Regional centres, is ready to give him all he wishes. We members of the Hymn Society may well go a step or two further, and not only form a judgment on the “Constituents of a Good Hymn,” but be prepared to give our reasons and justify our opinion…More

Looking at Hymn Tunes: The Objective Factors: by John Wilson

This chapter has grown from a talk given to The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland at its annual conference in 1979. A recording of the talk was sent to Erik Routley, and it was an honour and a pleasure when he asked for further copies for use in his teaching of Hymnody. Musical illustrations given at the piano or by a singer must here be replaced by printed examples, or simply by reference to the name of a tune. Wherever possible these references are to tunes familiar on both sides of the Atlantic. In several cases where this…More

Snakes and Ladders – A Hymn Writer’s Reflections: by Timothy Dudley-Smith

Snakes and Ladders: it is a phrase we’ve known since childhood. I confidently related it in my mind to the book of Genesis: the serpent in the Garden of Eden and the ladder of Jacob’s dream at Bethel. Not a bit of it: the game of Snakes and Ladders comes, I discover, from ancient Hinduism, perhaps representing the ascent to some kind of Nirvana. I am using it as a vivid metaphor for the ups and downs of life: that is, of my life learning to be a hymn writer…More

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