I’ve had an interesting couple of days. Yesterday I shared with Andy Watts and Jub Davis of The Carnival Band in a workshop celebrating the hymns of the late 18th and early 19th century, heavily featuring the works of one Chas Wesley. We had a day of singing and playing a selection of fine hymns and a great time was had by all.
This morning we led the worship at Wrexham Methodist Church. Apart from a bit of a panic about the projection system — Note to self: in future, make sure that this is all sorted before the day of the service — it all seemed to go rather well. Just like the last time I worked with these fine fellows, the worship was given a lift by their fresh approach to music which is too often simply written off as too old-fashioned for a modern congregation. After sharing with them in Swansea I wrote
There really is life in these old hymns and it would be nothing short of criminal to allow them to fall into disuse, especially for the fatuous ‘reason’ that they’re boring. None of the kids leaving church on Sunday morning looked like they’d been bored, and it was Wesley all the way.
What we urgently need to do is recapture the energy that is lying dormant in these hymns. Of course, it is fine music but there is much more to it than that. Wesley’s hymns were written to convey the power of the gospel, to draw people in with their combination of popular tunes and poetic words. The hymns are not an end in themselves, but a tool for the proclamation of the gospel.
All I’ve got to add now is Amen!