Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The St. Michael & All Angels Hymnathon is back this weekend! And here are my next ten favourite hymns - Hallelujah!

When our local church, St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park held its last hymnathon in 2012 - which involved singing every hymn in the New English Hymnal - it was just one of many events whose primary object was to raise money to pay for our splendid new £500,000 Swiss-made organ. Here's a short video about it:
The strange thing about the 80-hour event...

...which I wrote about here, wasn't that it raised a surprisingly large amount of much-needed cash, but that it created a powerful and genuinely moving sense of community the like of which I - and, I suspect, many other members of the congregation - had never experienced before. To be honest, the very mention of the word "community" tends to make me bilious (it gets sprayed around in the same dishonest manner as "social") but attending the Hymnathon very much made me feel part of a living, organic, local community rather than some pseudo-community invented by left-wingers to create divisions between their pet victim groups and the rest of society. Everyone seemed to react in much the same way, whether they were Christian or not, whether they stayed for ten minutes or for several hours, and whether they joined in the singing or just watched. I think we were all a bit surprised by how meaningful it seemed: I went out of a sense of duty, and stayed far longer than I'd intended, simply because it proved such an unexpected pleasure.

You can find all the details about the 2017 version here. It starts at midday on Friday March 3rd. and will (probably) end at about 6.30pm on Saturday. If you get a chance, do come - you will, I think, be pleasantly surprised. If you can't attend, you can still sort of take part by voting for your favourite hymn, and donating some money to be spent on good causes (none of which involve climate change or bullying Israel).

Last time, I took the opportunity to list my ten favourite hymns. I chose them on the basis that they were (1) musically appealing, or (2) enjoyable to sing, or (3) made me blub and lifted my spirits, or because (4) singing them made me feel that I was communicating directly with Him Upstairs. Ideally, a great hymn should do all four (blubbing is optional). One of the things about singing every hymn in the Hymnal sequentially - and therefore having to suffer through quite a few enervating duds - is how it sharpens one's appreciation of the truly great ones, of which there are many. Here are the next ten on my favourites list:

11. Jesu, Lover of My Soul

12. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

13. Father, Hear the Prayer We Offer

14. All Creatures of Our God and King


15. Come Down O Love Divine

16.  Guide Me O thou Great Redeemer

17.  Lord of All Hopefulness, Lord of All Joy

18. The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended

19. Come Down O Love Divine

20. All People That on Earth Do Dwell

I started off my original list of favourite hymns with "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" - and, as it's still my favourite,  I'll end with another version of it, recorded in Westminster Abbey in 2015:

UPDATE!! My wife, who sings in a church choir (she's an alto) just saw my list, and showed me one she'd already come up with - and there were several entries I wish I'd included on my list, including "The God of Abraham Praise", which sounds Jewish - because it is:

The God of Abraham Praise

This words of this final hymn are a translation of Latin hymn, and the music has its origins in 15th Century France:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel


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