Enduring Hymns Songs of Praise


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS


Enduring Hymns

Wynne Evans, Melanie Marshall, Wallingford Parish Church Choir and the congregation of Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford illustrate why hymns continue to inspire.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Enduring Hymns. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

They're sung in concert halls...

0:00:030:00:06

..on the terraces...

0:00:090:00:11

..in school...

0:00:150:00:17

..and of course, in church.

0:00:210:00:24

Well, as the new Methodist hymn book, Singing The Faith is published,

0:00:260:00:30

I'm here in Oxford to find out what makes a hymn not just inspire, but endure.

0:00:300:00:36

We have a celebration of hymns, both old and new from our congregation,

0:00:410:00:45

from Wallingford Parish Church Choir

0:00:450:00:48

and from soloists, Wynne Evans and Melanie Marshall.

0:00:480:00:53

It was here in Oxford

0:01:040:01:06

as undergraduates in the 18th century that John and Charles Wesley founded the movement

0:01:060:01:11

which became the Methodist Church.

0:01:110:01:15

Charles wrote so many hymn texts - more than 8,000 in all -

0:01:160:01:22

that it's said that Methodism really was born in song.

0:01:220:01:26

So where better for our congregation to sing out their faith

0:01:290:01:33

than here - at Oxford's Wesley Memorial Church -

0:01:330:01:36

starting with Charles's hope never to tire of singing God's praise.

0:01:360:01:41

John Betjeman described hymns as "the poems of the people".

0:03:580:04:03

They've given countless phrases to the English language

0:04:030:04:08

and are Britain's most distinctive contribution to Christian worship and literature.

0:04:080:04:14

No other country has produced such an abundance of great hymn writers,

0:04:140:04:19

like the man they call the "Father of Hymnody", Isaac Watts

0:04:190:04:22

and of course, Charles Wesley himself.

0:04:220:04:25

His work has certainly stood the test of time

0:04:250:04:27

and in fact there are nearly 80 of his best-loved hymns

0:04:270:04:30

in this new edition.

0:04:300:04:32

Hymns have always been special to this year's head of the Methodist Church, the Reverend Alison Tomlin.

0:04:340:04:41

I think the reason that I sing is because

0:04:410:04:45

music touches the depths of who we are -

0:04:450:04:49

music touches the heart, music touches the soul.

0:04:490:04:53

And sometimes it's more possible to express what is going on for us

0:04:530:04:57

in our worship and in my personal praying by singing it.

0:04:570:05:02

# Hum, hum... # Keep going...

0:05:020:05:05

Let me hear you. # Come all ye people come and pray... #

0:05:050:05:09

Another advocate of community hymn-singing is the hymn writer,

0:05:090:05:13

John Bell.

0:05:130:05:15

Methodists do it very well because they believe they can sing and they live out that belief.

0:05:150:05:20

Anglicans and some others believe that the choirs can sing

0:05:200:05:23

and so the congregation feels it's not their job so much.

0:05:230:05:26

When you reverse that

0:05:260:05:28

and allow people to know all God's people have a voice,

0:05:280:05:31

and that when God says, "Sing me a new song,"

0:05:310:05:33

it's not just the choir that's involved, it's the whole community.

0:05:330:05:37

When you persuade people that that is their duty and their joy,

0:05:370:05:42

then magic things happen and people enjoy it.

0:05:420:05:45

For me personally, it's very important,

0:05:450:05:48

because my mother, who was a singer,

0:05:480:05:50

sang her faith when she was washing up, when she was cleaning,

0:05:500:05:54

in the garden. I was brought up singing my faith

0:05:540:05:59

and it goes on being very, very important to me.

0:05:590:06:03

The last Methodist hymn book, Hymns And Psalms, was published in 1983.

0:08:220:08:27

Singing The Faith has been produced in response to the explosion

0:08:270:08:32

in the amount of music that has been written for worship since then.

0:08:320:08:36

With literally thousands of hymns to choose from,

0:08:360:08:40

how on Earth do you decide what to include and what to leave out?

0:08:400:08:45

We sang them!

0:08:450:08:47

Every hymn and psalm, we have sung,

0:08:470:08:51

to ensure that it was singable.

0:08:510:08:54

We want the hymn book to be for congregational use,

0:08:550:08:59

for people to use it in our churches and chapels on a Sunday.

0:08:590:09:04

The only possible way to do that was actually to try out every hymn and every psalm.

0:09:040:09:09

The new hymn book is very much a matter of preserving

0:09:120:09:17

the best of the old and trying to bring in the best of the new.

0:09:170:09:22

Singing is an emotional experience - it's not just from the head.

0:09:220:09:26

It's from the heart as well.

0:09:260:09:28

A great hymn enables us to join those two things together.

0:09:280:09:33

Some hymns lend themselves to being sung in different ways

0:09:360:09:39

on different occasions, like the hymn that's often thought of as the unofficial Welsh National Anthem,

0:09:390:09:46

Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer.

0:09:460:09:49

And in fact it was in the Methodist hymn book which was published

0:09:490:09:53

in 1933 that those words were first partnered

0:09:530:09:56

with that magnificent tune, Cwm Rhondda,

0:09:560:09:59

so it's going to be sung for us now, of course, by a Welshman - the wonderful tenor, Wynne Evans.

0:09:590:10:04

# Guide me, O thou great redeemer

0:10:090:10:15

# Pilgrim through this barren land

0:10:150:10:20

# I am weak, but thou art mighty

0:10:200:10:26

# Hold me with thy powerful hand

0:10:260:10:31

# Bread of heaven

0:10:310:10:34

# Bread of heaven

0:10:340:10:36

# Feed me now and evermore

0:10:360:10:41

# Feed me now and evermore

0:10:410:10:47

# Open now the crystal fountain

0:10:570:11:03

# Whence the healing stream doth flow

0:11:030:11:08

# Let the fiery cloudy pillar

0:11:080:11:14

# Lead me all my journey through

0:11:140:11:19

# Strong deliverer

0:11:190:11:22

# Strong deliverer

0:11:220:11:24

# Be thou still my strength and shield

0:11:240:11:29

# Be thou still my strength and shield

0:11:290:11:35

# When I tread the verge of Jordan

0:11:450:11:51

# Bid my anxious fears subside

0:11:510:11:56

# Death of death

0:11:560:11:59

# And hell's destruction

0:11:590:12:02

# Land me safe on Canaan's side

0:12:020:12:07

# Songs of praises

0:12:070:12:10

# Songs of praises

0:12:100:12:13

# I will ever give to thee

0:12:130:12:18

# I will ever give to thee

0:12:180:12:24

# Bread of heaven

0:12:240:12:27

# Bread of heaven

0:12:270:12:30

# Feed me till I want no more

0:12:300:12:37

# Feed me till I want no more. #

0:12:370:12:48

The new book from the Methodist Church has over 800 hymns and songs.

0:12:510:12:57

These are for singing at every stage of life,

0:12:570:13:00

at every time of the year

0:13:000:13:04

and at every point on a journey of faith.

0:13:040:13:07

There's a hymn for every human emotion and condition

0:13:090:13:13

and more than ever, hymns are a resource

0:13:130:13:15

for life in the modern world.

0:13:150:13:18

# Alleluia... #

0:13:180:13:19

The largest number of hymns by a living composer

0:13:190:13:22

in singing the faith,

0:13:220:13:24

44 of them in all,

0:13:240:13:25

are by John Bell.

0:13:250:13:28

People's understanding of God and discipleship

0:13:280:13:30

is much more often based on what they sing

0:13:300:13:34

than on what they hear preached.

0:13:340:13:36

You sing a hymn, perhaps four or five times a year

0:13:360:13:40

but you only hear the best sermon once in your life,

0:13:400:13:42

unless the vicar thinks, "That's so good, I'll do it again next Sunday."

0:13:420:13:46

A hymn only has longevity

0:13:460:13:48

as long as it speaks to people.

0:13:480:13:51

When it becomes an antique that you bring out and dust,

0:13:510:13:54

we should leave it alone.

0:13:540:13:56

It's very interesting how some of the oldest hymns,

0:13:560:13:58

like, O Come O Come Emmanuel or some of the hymns by Martin Luther,

0:13:580:14:02

endure forever.

0:14:020:14:04

So, I would never write off old hymns because they're old.

0:14:050:14:08

There are some which speak

0:14:080:14:11

with an eternal truth and resonance.

0:14:110:14:16

The music is a means, by which the words can be conveyed.

0:14:210:14:27

A good example of that would be the word "alleluia".

0:14:270:14:30

On its own, it doesn't really say very much

0:14:300:14:33

but put that to a melody and the delight in it comes out.

0:14:330:14:36

The same with Happy Birthday To You.

0:14:360:14:38

I mean, if I were to say that to you, it would be pretty dull,

0:14:380:14:41

but if I were to sing it to you, then it might be more enjoyable.

0:14:410:14:45

So, the music is the vehicle by which the words

0:14:450:14:48

are both remembered

0:14:480:14:51

and also transmitted.

0:14:510:14:53

When the music becomes so decorative

0:14:530:14:56

that it becomes a distraction from the words,

0:14:560:14:59

then we're in danger of getting the balance askew.

0:14:590:15:02

You will often include modern day issues

0:15:020:15:05

that other writers shy away from.

0:15:050:15:07

Abuse, for example.

0:15:070:15:10

Are you deliberately trying to push boundaries with that?

0:15:100:15:13

We have been remiss

0:15:130:15:15

in allowing these very genuine experiences of life

0:15:150:15:19

to be reflected in words and music

0:15:190:15:21

and in worship.

0:15:210:15:24

That means people who are affected by these particular eventualities

0:15:240:15:31

have a part of their life always omitted. Always omitted.

0:15:310:15:36

We'll, we're about to sing one of your hymns now.

0:15:360:15:39

Tell us about it, what prompted you to write it?

0:15:390:15:42

The hymn, Today I Awake...

0:15:420:15:45

..comes out of realising that we didn't have many hymns for mornings.

0:15:470:15:52

It doesn't matter if it's a dull morning or if it's a bright morning,

0:15:520:15:56

it's a new morning, it's a new day.

0:15:560:15:58

And I wanted to celebrate that.

0:15:580:16:00

And remember that within the Celtic tradition,

0:16:000:16:04

the old Saints, Columba and Patrick

0:16:040:16:06

had an affection for wrapping round themselves

0:16:060:16:09

the attributes of God.

0:16:090:16:11

And also it celebrated that God was three persons -

0:16:110:16:14

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

0:16:140:16:15

So in this hymn,

0:16:150:16:17

we surround ourselves with the attributes of God

0:16:170:16:21

and we remember Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

0:16:210:16:23

all one God in the Trinity.

0:16:230:16:27

What makes some of the hymns we love really powerful

0:19:070:19:11

is the unforgettable bond

0:19:110:19:13

in our minds and memories

0:19:130:19:15

of the words and the music.

0:19:150:19:19

But for me, it's the words that really count

0:19:190:19:23

and I think that's because many hymn verses started life as poems,

0:19:230:19:27

often written at times of great emotional insight.

0:19:270:19:30

And however long ago

0:19:300:19:33

the words were written,

0:19:330:19:35

the sentiments might well echo

0:19:350:19:36

our own today.

0:19:360:19:38

Like those expressed by the 17th-century writer

0:19:380:19:41

of My Song Is Love Unknown.

0:19:410:19:45

In his text, Samuel Crossman is full of wonder for a God

0:19:450:19:48

who is not just a majestic king able to create the Heavens,

0:19:480:19:53

but also a caring friend,

0:19:530:19:54

showing love to the loveless,

0:19:540:19:56

willing to die for our sake.

0:19:560:19:59

# My song is love unknown

0:20:030:20:08

# My saviour's love to me

0:20:080:20:11

# Love to the loveless shown

0:20:110:20:14

# That they might lovely be

0:20:140:20:19

# But who am I

0:20:190:20:22

# That for my sake

0:20:220:20:25

# My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

0:20:250:20:32

# He came from his blest throne

0:20:350:20:40

# Salvation to bestow

0:20:400:20:44

# But men made strange, and none

0:20:440:20:46

# The longed-for Christ would know

0:20:460:20:52

# But O! My friend

0:20:520:20:56

# My friend indeed

0:20:560:20:59

# Who for my need his life did spend

0:20:590:21:05

# In life no house, no home

0:21:100:21:16

# My Lord on Earth might have

0:21:160:21:20

# In death no friendly tomb

0:21:200:21:23

# But what a stranger gave

0:21:230:21:29

# What may I say?

0:21:290:21:32

# Heav'n was his home

0:21:320:21:35

# But mine the tomb wherein he lay

0:21:350:21:43

# Here might I stay and sing

0:21:490:21:54

# No story so divine

0:21:540:21:57

# Never was love, dear king

0:21:570:22:00

# Never was grief like thine

0:22:000:22:04

# This is my friend

0:22:040:22:07

# In whose sweet praise

0:22:070:22:10

# I all my days

0:22:100:22:12

# Could gladly spend. #

0:22:120:22:21

In 1761, John Wesley published

0:22:340:22:36

his Seven Rules For Singing

0:22:360:22:39

and in one of them he said, "Sing lustily and with good courage.

0:22:390:22:43

"Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep;

0:22:430:22:47

"but lift your voice with strength.

0:22:470:22:49

"Be no more afraid of your voice now,

0:22:490:22:52

"nor more ashamed of its being heard,

0:22:520:22:54

"then when you sung the songs of Satan."

0:22:540:22:57

PIANO PLAYS

0:22:570:23:00

Someone who helps congregations

0:23:000:23:03

sing lustily and with good courage,

0:23:030:23:05

is Paul Leddington Wright.

0:23:050:23:07

He's conducted numerous editions of Songs Of Praise, including this one

0:23:070:23:11

and has contributed to the new hymn collection.

0:23:110:23:15

It's been great fun,

0:23:150:23:17

seeing what the needs are of the book.

0:23:170:23:21

I think there are times when there is a tune,

0:23:210:23:24

which couples with a set of words.

0:23:240:23:26

So, you see a true marriage of melody and of text

0:23:260:23:31

and it really works

0:23:310:23:32

and then it can be absolutely scintillating.

0:23:320:23:36

They support each other, like a true marriage of a man and a woman,

0:23:360:23:39

how in a great relationship, things can really take off

0:23:390:23:43

and it's the same with a good hymn.

0:23:430:23:45

If you're writing a new tune,

0:23:460:23:49

the words are always the springboard.

0:23:490:23:51

I'll look at the text and decide on the sort of style it might go

0:23:510:23:55

and then I'll just play around, literally sitting at the piano

0:23:550:23:59

and play around with melodic ideas,

0:23:590:24:01

harmonic ideas and see what emerges.

0:24:010:24:04

Tell us about our next piece,

0:24:060:24:07

because you've written the music.

0:24:070:24:09

Well, the words are by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

0:24:090:24:12

and I'm sure everybody knows

0:24:120:24:14

that he was a German pastor

0:24:140:24:17

and he was imprisoned in the Second World War.

0:24:170:24:20

His writings are so important,

0:24:200:24:23

so valuable to the work of the church, and very sadly

0:24:230:24:26

he was martyred,

0:24:260:24:28

literally days before the end of the Second World War,

0:24:280:24:31

which is just such a tragedy.

0:24:310:24:33

But one of his texts,

0:24:330:24:35

"We turn to God

0:24:350:24:37

"when we are sorely pressed,"

0:24:370:24:39

is in the book

0:24:390:24:41

and there are just three verses

0:24:410:24:43

and it's just really about how, in times of trouble

0:24:430:24:46

and in times of need,

0:24:460:24:48

we turn to God and God is there to help us

0:24:480:24:50

and he is with us whatever,

0:24:500:24:52

through thick and through thin.

0:24:520:24:54

Christianity spread across the globe

0:26:480:26:52

to become the world's largest single faith.

0:26:520:26:55

In many parts of the world it's continuing to grow.

0:26:550:26:58

Whereas some of the early Christian missionaries

0:27:020:27:04

imposed their own Western ideas on other cultures,

0:27:040:27:07

today, British churches are drawing on the music and traditions

0:27:070:27:11

of many other parts of the world to inspire their own worship.

0:27:110:27:14

From the global church,

0:27:140:27:16

I tend to take courage in approaching subjects

0:27:160:27:21

which otherwise might be avoided.

0:27:210:27:25

And also, you find a liveliness in music in other cultures,

0:27:250:27:30

which we don't always have here.

0:27:300:27:33

Typically, hymns in Britain are quite foursquare.

0:27:330:27:35

People are a wee bit afraid of syncopation

0:27:350:27:38

as if it were a medical procedure that wasn't very good for them.

0:27:380:27:41

And so, when we sing a song from Africa or from South America,

0:27:410:27:45

and it is slightly lively,

0:27:450:27:46

people think, "Oh, no. This is not quite right."

0:27:460:27:49

What's happening is a part of our brain

0:27:490:27:51

is being encouraged to be part of worship,

0:27:510:27:54

which lies dormant when we're singing a foursquare hymn.

0:27:540:27:57

Christ's church is an international church, it's a global church

0:28:030:28:07

and it's about all those people who have a faith,

0:28:070:28:09

who worship the same God, wherever they might live on this globe.

0:28:090:28:15

You know, clearly we wanted to have something from another country

0:28:150:28:18

and I felt that this song was great fun - Santo Santo Santo.

0:28:180:28:22

It's got very jazzy rhythms,

0:28:220:28:24

very syncopated

0:28:240:28:26

but it's very workable.

0:28:260:28:27

Life-giving God

0:30:290:30:30

Thank you for words that challenge

0:30:300:30:34

Thank you for music that inspires

0:30:340:30:37

Thank you for song and dance

0:30:370:30:40

And tears and laughter

0:30:400:30:42

May our worship offer you

0:30:440:30:46

All the praise you deserve

0:30:460:30:50

And may it also unite us

0:30:500:30:52

In your service and in Your Name

0:30:520:30:55

Amen.

0:30:550:30:57

Well, a truly classic and inspiring hymn

0:31:000:31:03

may well have been written centuries ago

0:31:030:31:05

but it might also be a relative youngster,

0:31:050:31:08

like our last one today,

0:31:080:31:10

written in 1972 by Methodist minister, Fred Pratt Green.

0:31:100:31:14

And in this timeless favourite, he sums up

0:31:140:31:17

just how much hymns and great music can bring to our worship.

0:31:170:31:22

So, from me, to hymn lovers everywhere, goodbye.

0:31:220:31:25

Next week,

0:33:270:33:28

Songs Of Praise comes face to face with some famous people,

0:33:280:33:32

as Aled visits Madame Tussauds'

0:33:320:33:34

wax museum to discover how a French woman

0:33:340:33:37

created a British institution.

0:33:370:33:40

And he'll introduce more fantastic hymns.

0:33:400:33:43

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:33:590:34:02

E-mail [email protected]

0:34:020:34:05