Praising God with Singing

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

St. Augustine of Hippo is credited, by some, with the saying, “He who sings, prays twice.” Others dispute this and argue that what he actually said was, “Singing belongs to one who loves.”

Whatever his words actually were, the sentiment is clear and singing has been a vehicle of praise to God down the ages and by many faiths.

Christians found their first praises in the Psalms, the Jewish hymn book, and ‘Christianised’ them by adding ‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit at the end of each one they sung. The early saints also provided us with many texts that have stood the test of time down the ages: ‘The day of resurrection,’ ‘All creatures of our God and King’ and ‘Light’s abode, celestial Salem’ are but a few examples.

The 18th century saw hymn writers like Isaac Watts (‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ and ‘Jesus shall reign where’re the sun) and Charles Wesley (‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’ and ‘Love divine, all loves excelling’) making some outstanding contributions and so it has continued down the years.

In more recent times we have been provided with gems such as ‘In Christ alone’ and ‘How deep the Father’s love for us’ by Stuart Townsend and ‘Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord’ by Timothy Dudley-Smith.
At St. Michael’s hymn singing is a vital part of our offering of praise to God and, increasingly, a vehicle for mission and deepening of faith as we explore some of the new and varied resources which are available.

Regular readers of ‘Gateway’ will recall the article I wrote in the April edition about a hope that we might purchase the newest version of Hymns Ancient & Modern which is highly recommended by experts and practitioners alike – as well as by many who are in the pews week by week.

It is, therefore, good to be able to report that the Trustees of St. Paul’s Educational Trust have awarded us a grant of £1,000 towards our total and an anonymous donor has also promised to finance the organ copy of the book which comes in two volumes. For these generous gifts we are truly grateful – and now the challenge is to raise a further £1,000 to ensure that we will have sufficient copies for all – including some large print versions for those whose sight is not so good.

Our plan is to ask people to sponsor a book (or more than one!) at a cost of £10 per copy. This could, perhaps be in memory of a loved one or to mark a special occasion such as a wedding anniversary or a ‘significant’ birthday. On the other hand, people may just like to purchase a book as a thank-offering to God.

Please look out for an invitation to be part of this project in the next few weeks. Your support will be greatly appreciated – especially as there is currently a 25% discount on offer from the publishers!

When, in our music, God is glorified,
and adoration leaves no room for pride,
it is as though the whole creation cried ‘Alleluia!’

How often, making music, we have found
a new dimension in the world of sound,
as worship moved us to a more profound ‘Alleluia!’

So has the church, in liturgy and song,
in faith and love, through centuries of wrong,
borne witness to the truth in every tongue: ‘Alleluia!’

Fred Pratt-Green
(1903-2000)

With every blessing,
Paul.

Note: Issues of “Gateway”, St Michael’s Church magazine, are available for purchase in church.

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