Monday, August 06, 2007

Sing to God a hymn of gladness

This month sees the launch of a new hymn book at St James – New Hymns and Worship Songs. And at services on 2nd September there’s a chance to sample the new collection. Inside there are the familiar stalwarts of Songs of Praise such as Great is thy faithfulness as well as Wesley’s And can it be. Neither hymn is in our existing book. There are modern worship songs that have won a place in people’s praise – Be still for the presence of the Lord and Majesty to name but two. And there are some surprises. You’ll have to look (and wait!) to meet wage earners, the black madonna, not to speak of the elephant and the fuzzy wuzzy bear. There’s passion from Martin Luther King’s We have a dream speech adapted and set to music. And there’s power in Patrick’s Breastplate taking us right back to the dawn of Christianity in these islands. None of these are to be found in Hymns Ancient & Modern New Standard – what we’ll now inevitably start calling ‘the red book.’ If you’re wondering what will become of O Come all ye faithful and Praise my soul the king of heaven, the answer is the new book isn’t replacing the red book – we’ll just start using them together as we’re called to make a joyful noise to the Lord.

Music and hymnody also accompanies us at the month’s end. Our flower festival draws on harvest hymns transformed into floral arrangements. Harvest is a magical time midway between the August Bank Holiday in high summer and Bonfire Night with the depths of winter about to start. In the space of a few short weeks the seasons change and Harvest marks that point of transition – all is safely gathered in before the winter storms begin. That change and contrast is marked for us this year in flowers. We hope at some point over the weekend you’ll join us to enjoy the peace and beauty of the church for a few minutes, to experience some stunning music from our own choir and the Pearl of Africa, from schools around us, not to mention inspiring harvest praise. Look for further details in the magazine. You could even bring a friend with you!

Fr Andrew

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