Academic journal article The Hymn

More Than Hymns: Words for a Lyrical Faith

Academic journal article The Hymn

More Than Hymns: Words for a Lyrical Faith

Article excerpt

More than Hymns: Words for a Lyrical Faith ANDREW PRATT. LONDON: STAINER AND BELL, 2015. ISBN 978-085249-944-3. 190 PP. £14.95.

Hymnist Andrew Pratt's newest collection More than Hymns contains 144 original hymn texts written over the past five years. They originated from his desire to compose hymns for three years of readings in the Revised Common Lectionary, an effort which expanded upon completion of the project to include additional hymns for each Sunday in the respective cycle.

A painter, pastoral minister, scientist, and bicyclist, Pratt's vast experience is vividly intertwined into his writings. The problem of evil is an underlying current throughout much of the collection, hit head-on in a chapter consisting of five hymns and alluded to in many others though topics of doubt, disaster, death, and evil's origins. Calling upon Sydney Carter's infamous creed that there is "nothing fixed or final," Pratt examines ideas and attitudes through personal experiences of life while reflecting upon scientific and social changes humanity has attempted to assimilate or has simply ignored.

Pratt's style of writing is most often narrative and can be effective in personal as well as corporate devotion. Rhyming of second and fourth phrases is typical and occasionally draws the reader into what seems to be a conversation already in progress. A prime example of this approach is seen in "A topsy-turvy, upturned world" (101), a hymn for Advent in which Pratt tries to shake the reader out of "sentimentality and tinsel," noting that if his words are taken seriously "the world will be turned upside down."

A typical hymn will have three to four stanzas, although some show as few as two and others as many as eight; the latter is seen in "When Jesus came to Bethlehem" (18). …

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