Treasure No 60: Childhood and the Christian hymn

When children sing Christian hymns and songs they engage in an activity which is intended to be social and educational as well as religious. The experience is both communal and individual, for unless it means something to the child, the enterprise, however well-intentioned, ends in failure. The response of the child is crucial, and impressions, good or bad, are likely …

Treasure No 59: The Charming Sound of 18th-Century Hymnody

Among the hymns of Philip Doddridge, published in 1755, is a well-known one on infant baptism: To describe the Saviour of the world, the Good Shepherd, as having ‘engaging Charms’ may sound strange to twentieth-century ears. Charm, in this cynical and hard-faced age, has become a suspicious quality, something that we rate less highly than involvement, integrity and passion, which …

Treasure No 58: John Wilson 1905–92

After a long life lived to the full, John Wilson—to whom the world of hymnody owes more that it will probably ever know died suddenly on 16 July. His mental vigour undiminished to the end, he collapsed from a heart attack while shopping and died in Guildford Hospital without regaining consciousness. Sad though we are at his passing we can …

Treasure No 53: English and German Hymnody, Imports and Exports

Language barriers are very real. It is not simply that different languages have different words for the same objects, but they also have different sounds, different rhythmical stresses, and different grammatical structures. There are thus enormous problems when one wishes to translate sentences from one language to another. It can never be a straight word-for-word substitution, because the two languages …

Treasure No 52: Barratt, His Successors and the Quality of Faith

The first ‘official’ Congregational hymn-book was published in 1836. Its publication had been delayed until agreement was reached on whether or not to include the hymns of Isaac Watts in the same volume. The book was published, in the end, as a supplement to Watts. In 1859 The New Congregational Hymn Book was published, this time including the best of …

Treasure No 51: The Rock Whence we are Hewn

In the Society’s year of golden jubilee the Editor will hardly be censured for inviting a backward look at our origins. What follows here is in effect a review of the first eight Bulletins published between October 1937 and July 1939 (the eve of world war). The Society was born in Central Hall, Westminster, on 5 October 1936, the brainchild …