The New Room has been sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
I have been privileged to serve the New Room as organist and musical director for a considerable time and also to hold the same roles at Totterdown Methodist Church in South Bristol. After many years as a lecturer in a BT college I moved on to concentrate on music and travel. My wife Pam and I took over roles in the Methodist Church Music Society, The British Methodist Youth Choir and the USA Methodist Youth Chorale. As a member of the Royal School of Church Music I designed a grass roots organ training scheme which was widely used, and in which I taught.
Potential students of course want to start by playing hymns and in doing so they please the majority of congregational members for hymn singing plays a crucial role in many churches, especially Methodist ones, for we are told that John Wesley used hymns all the time and brother Charles wrote over 9000 hymns and faith poems, many of them written here in Bristol. ‘Methodism was born in song’ The Christian teaching in Charles’ hymns is inspiring, we have recently celebrated Christmas and I can but quote two gems ‘Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’ and ’Beings source begins to be, and God himself is born’ STF 199, STF 208.
Pam and I organised many overseas music tours including several to East Germany where we were very conscious of our western heritage for hymnody emanating from Martin Luther (and J.S.Bach). Whilst I cannot but emphasise Charles Wesley we should of course note his successors, there are many good examples in ‘Singing the Faith’ and our prayer handbook, The ‘Earth is the Lord’s includes a suitable hymn for every day.
‘In Christ there is no east or west in him no south or north. But one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth’. John Oxenham STF 685 (Today’s hymn)
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us for evermore.