Keith Hunter, Killamarsh, England
Published by the Emmaus Correspondence School, Wellington New Zealand; www.redhymns.com.
The decision to change a hymnbook is often a controversial one with competing desires to embrace good modern hymn-writing and maintain the timeless hymns which have been loved and sung for generations. With many congregations now using projected words at some or all gatherings, it is with interest that this hymnbook has come for review – does it have a place and can it meet both of the competing interests?
The answer to each is ‘Yes’, and ‘No’. Comprising a little over 700 hymns, this collection covers a wide range of well-loved hymns, many favourites and quite a few which are not so familiar (at least to a UK writer). The hymnbook is arranged alphabetically, which will suit some, but, at times, a thematic layout makes more sense (there is a thematic index at the back). It does, however, suffer from the desire to cover all eventualities, with a large section devoted to the Breaking of Bread, as well as most other gatherings, thus demonstrating a bit of a crisis of identity. Another disappointment is the relative lack of modern hymn writing, as is the tendency to change the words, with the older thee/thy replaced with you/your, which is quite jarring in many classic hymns. The music edition is clear with a good selection of tunes, including some not present in other widely-used hymnbooks. It also appears to be well bound, a real advantage given the usage these books often sustain. Is it good enough to consider replacing existing hymn books? Each congregation would have to make that judgement, but for me, the scarcity of modern hymn writing makes it less appealing, albeit it is a comprehensive collection of hymns.
[Our thanks to Keith Hunter, Killamarsh, England, for this review]