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This article is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.

Hymns-Modern and Ancient Arthur Pollard

THE quest for modernity has afflicted hymnody no less than versions of the Bible and the Prayer Book. This is not to say that there are no good modern hymns. Among a somewhat older generation there are writers like Dean Alington and G. W. Briggs (1875-1959) or, an underestimated figure, Timothy Rees (1874-1939), who is represented in the 100 Hymns for Today (the official supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern) by three pieces, of which 'God is Love: let heav'n adore him' and the better 'O crucified Redeemer' are worth mention. The latter begins:


O crucified Redeemer,
   Whose life-blood we have spilt,
To thee we raise our guilty hands,
   And humbly own our guilt.


There is the Passion, there is sin and redemption, and it is good to remind ourselves at the outset that hymns should be concerned with the great Christian topics of Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and all that stems therefrom. As Bishop Christopher Wordsworth remarked, 'the first duty of a hymn is to teach sound doctrine and thus to save souls'.

I do not find much Christian doctrine in this specimen:


I danced in the morning
   When the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon
   And the stars and the sun . . .


Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he (100 ...


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