Hymn Books – all new on sale.

All of my own collections are currently on sale at half price together with others such as writers as Elizabeth CosnettMarjorie DobsonAlan GauntFred Pratt GreenFred Kaan, Janet WoottonBrian Wren and of course Sydney Carterclick here for details

A reflection for Holy Week

When I opened my social media one morning I caught the comment, in relation to nothing in particular, ‘that’ll wait till after Easter’. Some things won’t. And in another sense some things can’t, shouldn’t be hidden or avoided. I don’t want to be a spoil sport, nor to confront us with things that are just too painful in a world which has pain enough of itself.
Come Easter day it will all be daffodils and Easter eggs, children and fun. Well not quite all. But that is jumping the gun. Let me take you back to the beginning of this, so called ‘Holy Week’.
Some people like to look at the whole drama of this week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday as ‘part of God’s plan’. I think that diminishes God. It doesn’t speak of the God I see in Jesus, or even the pages of the Hebrew scriptures. The events of this week are less planned, more inevitable; earthly as much as heavenly.

Remember that Jesus is a man, God become human, but a man. God does not put his ‘son’, through unimaginable cruelty. Charles Wesley had it right speaking of God ‘contracted to a span, incomprehensibly man’, a God who ‘emptied himself of all but love.’ So this Jesus is God. But he is human, like you and me. Very special, yet nothing special at all. Growing up he had witnessed religious corruption. That is not an anti-semitic comment. The church is just as riddled with corruption today. Occasionally people rise above it, but it is a human characteristic, built into our DNA. We are hard-wired for self-preservation and that makes us want to clamber to the top of the pile. Now and again we managed to repress our natural instincts and become a little more kind, a mite more gracious. Anyway, I digress.

Jesus rode a donkey into an occupied city at the time of a religious festival. Stirred up a crowd. If anything could be calculated to raise the temperature, rather than calm the conflict, that was its precursor. He challenged the religious people, over-turned the tables of the money changers, caused chaos. Then just walked away. Deals are done, silver changes hands, plots are elaborated. In the midst of all of this he shares a meal with his friends. Then an arrest is executed. Now this becomes political. Pilate is confronted rather than ignored. A charge is brought, a thief is dismissed. The dice is thrown, the deed is done. And this Jesus is brutally murdered.

 
Tortured, beaten, scarred and tainted,
Not a picture deftly painted,
More a tattered, battered being,
Torn, disfigured, stark, unseeing.
	
Muscles twisted, strained, contorted,
Body dangling, bruised, distorted.
Life blood drying, sun-baked, stinging,
Hatred, bitter hatred, flinging.

Crowds insensate, tempers vented,
Full of anger, discontented.
Curses scattered, insults flying,
Spurned, derided, God is dying.


And the women wait and watch. And the crowds disperse.
 
The single reason for this death is not, I feel, some cosmic, metaphysical plan but rather the consequence met out to anyone who seeks to embody to the uttermost the love of God. People leave the church when it is suggested that someone THEY consider unworthy is acceptable, is loved by God. Others say the church should not be political when it overturns their fiscal tables and hints that the poor have needs. I am trying to put this delicately because I don’t have Jesus’ courage or willingness to self-sacrifice. 
But the way I see it, this Easter story is less some master plan and more a parable demonstrating how we need to live with each other in this world now. As I think Christian Aid once put it, life before death, and that for everyone, the have-nots as well as we who have. And it is a warning for those of us who seek to be Christian, that it is not always a popular path to take. It has as much, if not more to say, about how we live now, holding all humanity in God’s love, than what happens when we die. 

Do hold fast to faith in resurrection if you have it, but being Christian ought to have as much to do with how we live now and love our neighbours as with what comes hereafter. For this latter, well I’m happy to trust that to God. 

Art © Andrew Pratt; Poem © 1997 Stainer & Bell Ltd

A hymn for Palm Sunday



To bring a city to its sense, a nation to its knees, they welcomed Nazareth's carpenter, waved palms cut from the trees. Hosanna filled the quiet air, they strained to glimpse a view; 'Messiah' they acclaimed this man whom Pharisees would sue. He turned the tables upside down, he spun their world around, he challenged preconceived ideas, flung hatred to the ground. This man had learnt too much, it seemed, knew ways of right and wrong, his ear attuned to righteousness sensed discord in their song. The politicians and the priests were threatened by this choice; the hypocrites would silence him, and still we shun his voice. Andrew Pratt Words © 2002 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd. Tune: FINGAL


A song and a hymn in Celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Hugh Bourne one of the founders of Primitive Methodism 

For more information click here - the Celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the birth of Hugh Bourne one of the founders of Primitive Methodism and the History of Primitive Methodism

A song - From farmyard to fireside this carpenter, preacher	 

Written 23 January 2022 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Hugh Bourne, one of the founders of Primitive Methodism.


From farmyard to fireside this carpenter, preacher
set free by the gospel sang praise in the hills, 
like Jesus, the poor were his constant companions, 
from factory or workhouse, from slum house to mills.

The good news was more than a spiritual compass, 
he broke from the ones who were buttressed by wealth, 
he shattered the barriers of class and distinction, 
and sought for equality, freedom and health.

He read to the heart of the scripture he studied, 
envisaged a commonwealth founded on grace, 
where all of the people were one with each other, 
who sought to see Jesus in everyone’s face.

He offered redemption to all who would hear him, 
not bounded by buildings, conditions or rules, 
the people were warmed by his kind invitation, 
though some criticised them, and some called them fools.

A primitive gospel was all that was needed 
to lift them above, build up hope, banish shame, 
that simple perspective will rest with God’s people, 
who humbly still follow in Jesus’s name.

Andrew Pratt  
Words © 2022 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
The tune STREETS OF LAREDO is commended for this text.

A hymn - We will join in celebration	.


Written to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Hugh Bourne, one of the founders of Primitive Methodism.


We will join in celebration
of the line in which we stand, 
grown beyond imagination, 
grace for all throughout the land: 
sisters, brothers (sisters, brothers),
here in union, hand in hand.

Once a man who followed Jesus
had a vision for the earth,
grace and joy for all the people 
freed from poverty from birth: 
sing the story (sing the story),
sing in knowledge of our worth.

From a farm to work and fireside 
he would preach and work and act, 
living out the gospel message, 
turning words to living fact, 
still we’re learning (still we’re learning),
letting love and faith attract.

Now in grace and hope and friendship 
we will stand on solid ground,
we will follow in the footsteps
of the Christ Hugh Bourne had found:
onward pilgrims (onward pilgrims),
let our song of joy resound!

Andrew Pratt  
Words © 2022 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Metre: 8.7.8.7.4.7
The tunes ROUSSEAU’S DREAM, SAINT RAPHAEL, REGENT SQUARE and RHUDDLAN are commended for this text. (If sung to REGENT SQUARE or RHUDDLAN, repeats should be used in the penultimate line of each verse, as shown in parentheses)

'We will join in celebration' intentionally mirrors the pattern of Hugh Bourne's own hymn, 'Hark! the gospel news is sounding' (later attributed jointly to William Sanders)

Hark! the gospel news is sounding:
Christ hath suffered on the tree;
Streams of mercy are abounding;
Grace for all is rich and free.
Now, poor sinner,
Look to him who died for thee.

O escape to yonder mountain!
Now begin to watch and pray;
Christ invites you to the fountain,
Come, and wash your sins away:
Do not tarry,
Come to Jesus while you may.

Grace is flowing like a river;
Millions there have been supplied;
Still it flows as fresh as ever
From the Saviour's wounded side:
None need perish;
All may live, for Christ hath died.

Christ alone shall be our portion;
Soon we hope to meet above,
Then we'll bathe in the full ocean
Of the great Redeemer's love;
All his fullness,
We shall then for ever prove.

William Sanders (1799-1882) and Hugh Bourne (1772-1852)
8 7 8 7 4 7 



Mothering Sunday? UKRAINE – first draft

God is among all the cries of the dying, 
buried in fear amid hurt and disdain,
breathing the dust of destruction, despairing,
holding each mother and feeling her pain.


God, like a mother, once torn from her children,
weeps in the darkness, has nowhere to turn,
fenced by the horror and starved by indiff’rence,
nations watch blindly while homes fall or burn.


God, stand beside us, God mother and comfort,
God you despaired as you hung, bled and died,
now in this moment, God hold and enfold us,
interpose Love where all love was denied.

Andrew Pratt (born 1948)

Words © 2022 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

11 10 11 10

Tune: STEWARDSHIP