Last week Fr Kelvin asked Who Chooses The Hymns? It is a question I am often asked too. And the answer in my case is: I do. To be truthful, I do with a little advice from Andrew the organist. And let me tell you it is not the fun task you might imagine.
Each Sunday has a theme dictated by the lectionary readings or the time of year. So we try to find hymns which fit that theme. (What do you mean, you hadn’t noticed?!) Then there is the length of the hymn to be considered. You don’t want 12 verses for the Gradual but you need enough verses to set the table at the Offertory. At St Mark’s we have some people who prefer traditional old-style hymns and we also have some who would prefer us just to sing more modern hymns and choruses. Finding a balance is probably the hardest job for me because I’m not terribly familiar with all the modern hymns in our book (Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New, in case you’re interested) and I suspect that Andrew our organist isn’t either. And we all know how much people LOVE learning new hymns.
I choose the hymns about 3 months ahead and pass them over to Andrew who draws to my attention duplicates and suggestions. Things like ‘that one isn’t easy to sing while kneeling’ is really helpful. A will also suggest replacements but I have noticed that they are never the new ones!!
One of the biggest complaints I get about hymns are the lack of modern hymns. The second biggest complaint is that some of the hymns have been made more inclusive and some language is changed. I actually am happy about this but know some folk get caught out with the oldies they know off by heart. I think we always need to remember that newcomers coming to church may be really put off by archaic, male-centric language and that we should be modelling inclusiveness in all we do.
On the 15th of November Susan will be choosing the hymns. She won the bid at the recent Auction of Talents. I was asking her recently how it was going and she said her problem was that all her favourites were Communion hymns. I can relate to that. I’m not sure there is a post-Communion hymn which I don’t like, in fact.
So, today’s question is:
What are your 5 favourite hymns?
Here are mine – well today anyway:
- I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say
- Come Holy Ghost our souls Inspire
- As The Deer Pants For the Water (and As Pants the Hart)
- Tell Out My Soul
- My Song is Love Unknown