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Alan Gaunt (b.1935)

Alan GauntAlan Gaunt was born in Manchester in 1935, where his father was minister at the Moss Side Congregational Church. When he was three years old the family moved to Blackpool. In 1946 he went as a border to Silcoates School, and this was followed by Lancashire Independent College and Manchester University, where he did five years training for the Congregational Ministry. He was ordained at Clitheroe in 1958, and a week later he was married to Winifred. They have had two children, Miriam and Paul. Since 1958, he has served Congregational and United Reformed Churches in different parts of the North of England. His final pastorate has been in Windermere, where Fred Kaan has been a regular member of the congregation. In June 2000 Alan and Winifred retired to Little Neston on the Wirral peninsular, where he was minister in the Heswall United Reformed Church, from 1974 to 85.

It was at Clitheroe, about 1960, that he began to write hymns. It was suggested that he should send his first half dozen to Erik Routley, who in his kindly and creative way was ruthlessly critical! Erik subsequently wrote the introduction to Alan’s New Prayers for Worship, which proved to be something of a best seller in the UK and also in Australia and New Zealand. Later, came Prayers for the Christian Year, which included prayers for every Sunday for two years, based on the Joint Liturgical Group Lectionary. A small volume of thirty one prayers, Each Day’s Delight, also proved very popular, especially as it fitted so easily into a handbag or pocket.

He was much slower in bringing his hymns before the public. A small collection New Hymns for Worship was published in the seventies, probably too soon! Most of what survives from then has been drastically revised. For a number of years he had alternating periods of poetry and hymn writing, sometimes going for five or six years without writing a hymn at all. It seemed that the two activities could not be carried on together. However, for about fifteen years poetry and hymnody have influenced each other.

He has also translated hymns from Latin, German, French, Greek and Danish. This is not because he is any sort of linguist, but for precisely the opposite reason. Not being able to read the hymns in their original language, he feels the need to get as close to the original as possible, in his own.

In 1998 he received an honorary MA for his hymn writing from Manchester University.

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