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Elizabeth Cosnett (1936–2024)

PHOTO: Peter Kaye Photography, Liverpool

The hymns of Elizabeth Cosnett first came to public notice when several of her texts, with music by Ian Sharp, were among the winners of the BBC Songs of Praise competitions in 1985 and 1988. Earlier than this, however, her MA dissertation for Liverpool University, entitled The Poet as Hymn Writer: A study of the hymns of George Wither, William Cowper and Robert Bridges, had already signalled a commitment to hymnody that has continued in her own creative work, but also in her membership of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, of which she was Executive President.

A native of Liverpool, where she was born in 1936, Elizabeth Cosnett was educated at a local grammar school and at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. Returning to her home city, she taught for some years in grammar and comprehensive schools and then lectured in English at the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education until her retirement in 1996. A keen reader and gardener, she was also an enthusiastic bell-ringer at the city centre parish church of St Nicholas, where she served as a churchwarden.

Elizabeth Cosnett’s texts, often in partnership with Ian Sharp’s music, have appeared in a wide selection of contemporary hymn collections and publications, including Ancient and Modern, Common Praise, Irish Church Hymnal, Reflecting Praise, Rejoice and Sing, Sing Glory, Sound Bytes and Story Song.

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