Pratt, Andrew: More than Hymns
Words for a Lyrical Faith
A creative spirituality is the essence of Andrew Pratt’s continuing affirmation of the role of hymnody in contemporary faith, through a corpus of lyrics for public worship that are amongst the most relevant of recent contributions to the form. No less than with his very first texts, dating from the late 1970s, the goal in this fourth and latest collection is to make sense of language, living and worshipping in a way that also acknowledges the shifting and often contextual nature of our words and of our world. One important influence in More than Hymns has been the discipline of writing hymns for three years of the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary. Another has been his response to the problem of evil as manifest in the crises and conflicts of the last decade. There are challenging insights into familiar Biblical themes, and a number of refreshing items, each a pièce d’occasion arising from the author’s varied pastoral work.
I am full of admiration for people who can express aspects of their Christian faith within the constraints of the verses of a hymn. But to be able to write three to five hymns a week for three years, to cover the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary, is mind-boggling. This is precisely what Andrew Pratt has done, and having completed that process, he continues to write hymns to provide new resources for acts of worship each Sunday.
This is the fourth published collection of his prolific work. It contains 144 hymns divided into 16 sections. There are also useful indexes to enable the reader to select hymns by the tune, metre, theme and Bible reference. After each hymn there are notes to provide some insight into what has been written.
This is a good source of new material for congregations to be able to sing fresh, topical words to familiar tunes. But, as the title suggests, this is more than simply a hymn book. I have found it to be an anthology of poetry that has enabled me to think about a passage of scripture or theological topic in a new way. As such, these hymns can be used in personal study, or read as a meditation in collective worship. The ideas that they express are often challenging and provoke a response. I would recommend this book to those who are open to tackling biblical subjects from a fresh perspective, through the medium of verse.
Ruth Logan, Preach Magazine