Occasional papers of The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland


The published Occasional Papers of the Society are all available to purchase as a regular physical copy that will be posted to you or as digital downloads with a choice of either PDF or eBook versions. There are several payment options: PayPal (if you don’t have a PayPal account you may also pay by Credit or Debit card), Direct Bank Transfer or cheque. Postage for people in the UK is free, postage to Europe and the rest of the world is available too with an additional cost, this is set up in the shopping cart. Physical copies will be sent to the account holder’s address.

Members of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland have free access to read the Occasional Papers online or download the PDF copies. Why not consider joining us? You will also have free access to the Canterbury Dictonary of Hymnology.

Newly published by The Hymn Society

Worshipping Caretakers: the Creation and our Stewardship of it in HymnodyAlan Hall

It is not unusual, these days, to be overwhelmed with articles concerning the plight of our planet, environmental issues and global warming. These are always thought-provoking, and the very real threat to the natural world calls for a response from Christians, not only in their praise for the beauties of creation, but in their responsibilities as stewards of all that is given to us by God our creator. In this thorough and searching exploration, Alan Hall starts by reminding us that since earliest times, hymns have been sung praising the beauties of creation. However, he points out that simply to sing All things bright and beautiful is to ignore the ‘enormous suffering and waste in the natural world’. Rather than abandoning worshippers to a diet of empty words, Alan Hall opens a deep discussion with God as both creator and redeemer. He explores hymns from many Christian traditions, and in several languages, which draw attention to the urgent need for Christians to grapple with some of the difficulties of today’s environmental concerns. Whilst Alan Hall discusses well-known texts, he offers a fresh perspective on many of these, placing them within their historical and cultural context. Furthermore he brings the discussion right up to date, quoting texts by present-day hymn writers all with a view to offering new insights into this complex subject. This is a fascinating booklet is sure to broaden the horizons of all interested readers.

Available from the Secretary or as a digital download below – £4.00.

Faith, Hymns and Poetry – Timothy Dudley-Smith

This Occasional Paper is an expanded version of a lecture given by Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith at the Hymn Society’s 2013 Conference. It contains all the elements that Dudley-Smith’s readers and singers have come to expect: clarity of thought, rigorous enquiry, an ability to stir the imagination, a certain delightful humour.

In a frank discussion of attempts to include in hymn books poets that should never have been there, the essay nails its colours firmly to the mast: ‘it does seem best’, the author writes, ‘that if a hymn text is to be sung with integrity, it should come from a writer who can sing it in the same way.’ The author argues that the presence of Shelley and Hardy in Songs of Praise does a disservice to their memory; although this essay is never authoritarian.

To lovers of Dudley-Smith’s hymns, this Occasional Paper will be a delight. His appreciation of A.E. Housman, for example, is the admira­tion of one craftsman for another: ‘mark the natural word-order, the single emphatic inversion, the precision of stress and metre’. But the reader will also find here something of the inner mind of the hymns, reflected in his personal choices. These are an indication of the influ­ences and loves that help to drive his hymnody – Alice Meynell, Walter de la Mare, Robert Louis Stevenson. These are the stuff of Dudley-Smith’s dreams: if only they could have had faith and written hymns!

Connoisseurs of humour will find much to interest them here, from A.A. Milne’s parody of the National Anthem to Housman’s ‘Hallelujah Hannah’. These moments lighten what is a profoundly serious and revealing essay, which all lovers of hymns – and of poetry – will find stimulating, and enjoy reading.

Available from the Secretary or as a digital download below – £4.00.

First Series



From £2.00

Occasional Papers 1 No. 1
The Gonstituents of a Good Hymn
by W. T. Cairns (1939)

Occasional Papers 1 No. 2
Reality in Worship
by Frederick John Gillman, (1939)

Occasional Papers 1 No. 3
Music in Hymnody
by Millar Patrick (1945)

Occasional Papers 1 No. 4
The Hymn Writers of Bristol
by K. L. Parry (1946)

Second Series



From £2.50

Occasional Papers 2 No. 1
Looking at Hymn Tunes: The Objective Factors
by John Wilson (1991)

Occasional Papers 2 No. 2
Susanna and Catherine Winkworth
by Peter Skrine (1992)

Occasional Papers 2 No. 3
Hymns and an Orthodox Dissenter: in Commemoration of Bernard Lord Manning 1892-1941
by Clyde Binfield (1992)

Occasional Papers 2 No. 4
A Hymn Book Survey 1980 – 1993
by Donald Webster (1994)

Occasional Papers 2 No. 5
John Darwall and the 148th Metre
by John Wilson (2002)

Occasional Papers 2 No. 6
A Hymn Book Survey 1993-2003
by Alan Luff (2003)

Occasional Papers 2 No. 7
The Wit and Wisdom of Percy Dearmer
by Alan Luff (2006)

Third Series

From £3.50

From £3.50

From £3.50

Occasional Papers 3 No. 1
Snakes and Ladders – A Hymn Writer’s Reflections
by Timothy Dudley-Smith (2008)

Occasional Papers 3 No. 2
What do Hymns Say About Daily Work?
by David R. Wright (2009)

Occasional Papers 3 No. 3
Revealing Hidden Wisdom – Women Finding a Voice in Hymnody
by June Boyce-Tillman (2010)

Occasional Papers 3 No. 4
Redefining the Hymn: The Performative Context
by Katherine Jenkins with an extended introduction by Rhidian Griffiths (2010)

Occasional Papers 3 No. 5
‘Race Shall Thy Works Praise Unto Race’: The Development of Metrical Psalmody in Scotland
by Graham S. Deans (2011)

Occasional Papers 3 No. 6
Hymns Ancient & Modern 1861 – 2013: Its Rise, Development and Influence
by James Dickinson (2013)

Occasional Papers 3 No. 7
Worshipping Caretakers: The Creation and our Stewardship of it in Hymnody
by Alan Hall (2014)

Occasional Papers 3 No. 8
Faith, Hymns and Poetry
by Timothy Dudley-Smith (2016)