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Old Hymns in New Ways

Old Hymns in New Ways’ is the title for another ‘Big Sing’ event organised by the Presbyterian Church to be held in Church House, Belfast on Saturday 26 April from 10am till 4.30pm.
Choirs and singers from every Presbyterian Church have been invited to join together to do what they like doing best – to sing – and the theme this year is to look at some of the older hymns and using them in newer ways.
“Last year I was amazed at the support we received for our first ‘Big Sing’,” says Rev Karen Campbell, one of the organisers.
“It encouraged me that there is still an appetite for getting together and singing and even more for doing it to bring honour and glory to God, and so we have planned another.”
Over recent years there has been a rediscovery of the doctrinal and musical richness and heritage found in the historical hymnodies of the Christian churches. Choirs, recording artists and others are again singing some of these forgotten hymns and in them finding a fresh expression of their faith.
To catch this mood the Presbyterian Board of Mission in Ireland asked well know local musicians Esther Church and Jonathan Rea to revisit some of the great hymns in the Presbyterian tradition and write new, contemporary arrangements. These are included in a music book ‘Old Hymns in News Ways’ which is being launched at the event.
“Our hope is that these new arrangements would enliven and enrich congregational singing where ever they are used,” adds Karen Campbell, explaining that they have deliberately tried to choose hymns with some kind of connection to Celtic Spirituality.
The hymn ‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’, which needs no introduction to local choirs, has been given a fresh interpretation in the hope that it will be sung more widely while the work of two other Irish hymn writers also features heavily. They are Rev John Samuel Bewley Monsell from Londonderry who wrote ‘Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ and James Montgomery who grew up in Ballymena and whose best known hymn is ‘Angels from the realms of Glory’.
The day falls into three practical sessions and a final worship session which is free and open to everyone whether they have been at the other sessions or not and which begins at 3.00pm
Session one looks at medleys and how contemporary worship songs can be grafted together in a complementary way. Session two looks at recent choral arrangements and the music produced specially for the day and session three looks at a range of hymns set in newer contexts including new tunes or new musical interpretations of the original tune.
Session four is everyone’s opportunity to join in a worship session using the new skills that have been explained earlier in the day and the new hymns and music that have been taught.
“This will be a practical day, full of musical participation and modeling of ideas, ranging from acoustic to band, choral to congregational and with plenty of materials to take away,” adds Karen Campbell. “It’s not a day designed for one particular type of music, or musician, or singer, or age group but for everyone to stand on the shoulders of our spiritual forefathers and be encouraged by the grace, richness and beauty of their hymns.”
The day costs £10 including lunch with the final session being free and open to anyone to attend. More information can be found from the Presbyterian Board of Mission in Ireland at < >, tel 028 9032 2284.
Booking for the practical sessions is essential and can be completed by emailing Laura Whitcroft at <>   

Posted: 11-Apr-2014

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