Singing the Faith
Methodism was born in song... Or so we are informed in the oft quoted introduction to the 1933 Methodist hymnbook... And although the dreadful publication entitled Hymns and Psalms published in 1983 might potentially have contributed to the death of Methodism, we have survived it and are now staggering into the process by which a newer anthology will be compiled. Whether many churches will opt for a paper copy of this or abandon hymnbooks entirely in favour of projecting words onto screens I don't know... Although in my own church we largely project the words, I do hope we never fully abandon hymnbooks, because whilst I am not certain that Methodism was born in song, it was certainly nourished by its sacred songs as it grew. We sing our theology... It is the hymns of Charles Wesley that should be noted as a statement of normative Methodist belief rather than John Wesley's 44 Sermons... When was the last time you heard someone whistling a sermon? The only thing that worries me is that many of the hymns and songs of recent years are theologically illiterate... Marginally better than the twee rubbish that came out in the 1960s and 70s and was included in Hymns and Psalms, but still illiterate.
Anyway, I didn't actually begin this post intending to rant, but sadly that seems my default, Victor-Medrewesque setting these days. What I was going to do was point those interested in the direction of a really useful resource. Whilst looking for information on this new adventure in Methodist hymnody because I'm going to have to draft someone from a committee I convene to sit on the panel preparing this hymnal, I discovered a really interesting site on the British Methodist Church website, offering brand new hymns dealing with contemporary issues. Some of them are banal, but most of them are genuine attempts to wrestle theologically with real, everyday events. There's even one about the Large Hadron Collider... So if (when it is switched back on after a bit of a repair) it does manage to create a black hole that will suck us all to oblivion, then we have something appropriate so that Methodism (and everything else) might also die in song!