AN OPEN search for new hymns on contemporary social issues has resulted in a new collection, Until your land is wholeincluding a mix of new music and tunes from existing hymns, and by established and up-and-coming writers.
The research was launched a year ago by Jubilate, the Song and Hymn Writers Foundation. He wanted to “joyfully expand the repertoire,” especially in more traditional churches, and drew inspiration from writers who “not only tackled issues, but also offered a distinctive Christian perspective. . . not just a social commentary, but something that points to hope” (News, February 26, 2021).
The result is a collection of 12 hymns, each with full text, piano score, video and MP3 file for download. Project co-ordinator Roger Peach, Music Director of St Andrew’s, Oxford, describes the collection as “encompassing heartfelt prayer, raw outpouring of lamentation and faith-filled hope for the future. I pray that this will provide new inspiration to devotees around the world.
It includes “Redeemer and Lord of the Land,” lyrics by Christopher Idle to a new tune by Noel Tredinnick. On the question of justice and hope, the second verse begins: “New plagues have infected our race; the old war brings chaos and evil: but peace is a gift of your grace as storms follow calm.
From another established writer, Martin Leckebusch, comes “Clameur de Mille Voix”, to the well-known tune Aurelia“A thousand voices are crying out to find an attentive ear; a thousand images dazzle to make their message understood; the scientific journal, the reflections of the wise, expand our endless learning, our information age.
The nine issues the authors were asked to focus on included mental health, the refugee crisis, the environment and truth. Mr Peach said on Monday: ‘We’ve seen some really thought-provoking and thought-provoking texts. We were able to pair some tunes with familiar tunes, making them very easy to understand, and others for which we also have new tunes.
He describes the lamentations as particularly powerful and the entire collection as “more prayerful and heartfelt than preachy”. There is a lament on depression by Kate Bluett and Keiko Ying: “Look upon my heart, O Lord of light and darkness; look at my soul and cry over what you see.
Two anthems – “You have created a universe so full of wonder” and “You have come to lift up the last and the least” – come from Ally Barrett, “who is very poetic in her writing; so they’re very strong,” Peach said. He wrote the melody for the latter and is happy that it passed the evaluation process.
Jubilate was able to assemble a small choir to record the hymns and make videos, despite restrictions over the past year. “In general, there is not much we have been able to do; so it’s very special to have been able to do this,” Mr. Peach said.
The Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, said: “The present times call for a sweet, compassionate, uplifting and prophetic new hymnody. Until your land is whole provides exactly that. I hope the material will be widely used.