Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stephen Clark responds to critique of new Christian Hymns

Published by the Evangelical Movement of Wales, 2007, 32pp, price 50p (here)
One of the sad features of the Reformed scene in the UK is the outbreak of 'hymn book wars'. A new, revised edition of Christian Hymns (NCH) was published in 2004 by the Evangelical Movement of Wales. It was given a hostile review by John Thackway, editor of the Bible League Quarterly. Thackway's critique is now available online as a pdf document - here. In this booklet, Stephen Clark, pastor of Freeschool Court Evangelical Church, Bridgend attempts to respond to some aspects of Thackway's review. He pleads for greater consistency, honesty and charity in the debate over the inclusion of some contemporary hymns in NCH. I commend this well-argued booklet.


Jonathan Hunt said...

'Sad' is the word. I have read and re-read the critique. I cannot agree with most of it, although I do personally object to the presence of a few items in NCH.

Talking to Jonathan Stephen at the Bible Festival, he noted how when he and others worked on Praise!, none of them got what they individually wanted, and all had to compromise regarding content.
It seems you cannot win, you cannot please everybody whatever you do.

It boils down to whether you accept that SOME stuff written today is good and worth using, or whether you just throw out the baby with the (majority) trite, doctrinally weak, hopelessly entertainment-based, bathwater.

I call it the true tragedy to believe that God has given the church hymns on a par with the way He gave the church the AV, and that neither should ever be moved on from.

Right. Back to my Stuart Townend Live Album.

Exiled Preacher said...

I think that you would appreciate Clark's booklet. It's a pretty devastating response to Thackway's review. If we Calvinists can sing Wesley's hymns and if we orthodox trinitarians can sing Watt's hymns, what's the problem with Townend?

Some would respond that Townend is still alive. What kind of argument is that?

Martin Downes said...


Give us some extracts (my Scottish blood recoils at spending money on it...)

Exiled Preacher said...


I thought about including some excerpts in the main post. But the booklet needs to be read as a whole. Clark's points are so tightly argued that extracting quotes from here and there might give a misleading impression of his case. I'm a bit reluctant to quote his challenging conclusions without detailing the evidence that he marshals to reach them. If I did all that, I'd virtually have to produce a bootleg copy of the booklet.

Anyway, if you're too mean to spend .50p, I'll treat you to a copy. When I next see you I'll give you .50p on receipt of a valid proof of purchase.

Martin Downes said...

I'll see if I can get one when I'm down in Bridgend next Saturday. Could you send me an email with the headline conclusions?