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Brian Wren (b.1936)
Known for many popular hymns, including ‘As man and woman we were made’ and ‘Dear Christ, uplifted from the earth’, Brian Wren is a writer whose work has been included in collections of all denominations and traditions throughout the Englishspeaking world. Its wide appeal reflects the author’s concern with hymnody’s aspects both as theology and poetry no less than as a musical form, the source of its unique power of communication. Central to his mission-in-words has been a challenging review of the language and metaphor we use in approaching God. In particular, he has championed the role of inclusive language in worship, not only in his own hymn texts but also in several distinguished academic studies.
Brian Wren holds Oxford degrees in Modern Languages and in Theology, and a DPhil for work on the Hebrew prophets. Following his ordination in 1965 he served as Congregational minister in Essex, then with the British Council of Churches, Third World First and War on Want before becoming a freelance preacher, worship- and workshop-leader in 1983. From 1991 he continued this ministry in the USA, often in collaboration with his partner-in-marriage Rev. Susan Heafield, a United Methodist pastor. From 2000 until his retirement in 2007 as Professor Emeritus he was the Conant Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. In 1999 his text ‘Hidden Christ, alive for ever’ was runner-up out of 553 entries to the international Millennium Hymn Competition held by St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and was sung there on 9 January 2000 as part of its ‘millennium gift to the nation’.