Academic journal article The Hymn

Reclaiming Praise: Hymns from a Spiritual Journey

Academic journal article The Hymn

Reclaiming Praise: Hymns from a Spiritual Journey

Article excerpt

Reclaiming Praise: Hymns from a Spiritual Journey by Andrew Pratt. London: Stainer and Bell, 2006. 185 pp. ISBN 13: 978-0-85249-891-0. U.K. £12.50.

Andrew Pratt's newest text collection is a rare example within this genre which can be read straight through, cover to cover, and provide a very satisfying narrative experience. Rather than an alphabetical arrangement or following a particular liturgical scheme, Pratt's hymns are ordered autobiographically. They are linked theologically and thematically to a general Biblical arch, within which Pratt locates his own recent spiritual journey. (Take the time to read the headings in the table of contents. The headings Pratt provides are a succinct summary of the history of the universe!) The collection, writes Pratt in the preface, emerges from his "experience of trying to reclaim the capacity to praise God since the death of [his] son in 1999." Mary Louise Bringle writes in the foreword that the reader will "experience this volume as a pilgrimage," and indeed I did. Each hymn is followed on the same page by notes, both informative and personal, that draw the reader into Pratt's story. The collection includes 150 texts and the standard complement of indices. Only 27 tunes are printed. Many of the texts are in standard meters, and all have suggested tunes.

The hymns themselves sparkle with color and imagery. Pratt engages the natural world with the eye of a scientist (his background was in fish pharmacology). Perhaps this academic background is also the source of his penchant for multi-syllabic words-"enigmatic" and "kaleidoscopic" might present a challenge for composers and singers. …

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