The New English Renaissance


Erik Routley in an article in The Hymn (January, 1977, Vol. 28, No. 1, p. 6), described the remarkable hymnic activities of the late 1960's and 1970's as a "New English Renaissance" of hymn writing. By 1970, the uncertainty of musical styles and the quantity of unproven texts caused hymnal editors to publish new hymns and tunes in SUPPLEMENTS -- small, almost disposable collections intended to be used along side full-fledged hymnals. Through the publication of these supplements, three hymn writers in particular began to emerge: Fred Pratt Green, Fred Kaan, and Brian Wren. Today, their hymns have become standard fare in most new English-language hymnals. (In 15 current American hymnals, Green has 38 hymns, Wren has 45 hymns, and Kaan has 21 hymns.)

Fred Pratt Green (1903 - 2001)

Christ is the world's light (UMH #188)
For the fruits of this creation (UMH #97)
The Church of Christ in every age (UMH #589)
When in our music God is glorified (UMH #68)
When our confidence is shaken (UMH #505)
When the Church of Jesus shuts its outer door (UMH #592)

Brian Wren (b. 1936)

Arise, shine out, your light has come (UMH #725)
Christ is alive! Let Christians sing (UMH #318)
Christ upon the mountain peak (UMH #260)
I come with joy to meet my Lord (UMH #617)
When love is found (UMH #643)

Fred Kaan (b. 1929)

For the healing of the nations (UMH #428)
Help us accept each other (UMH #560)
Now let us from this table rise (UMH #634)
We meet you, O Christ (UMH #257)

One other British hymnwriter who has been active during the last quarter of the 20th century and who might be considered part of this "Renaissance" Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1912). His hymn Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord (UMH #200, based on the Magnificat), has become a standard hymn appearing in six current American hymnals.

[From Sing with Understanding, by Harry Eskew and Hugh McElrath (Nashville: Church Street Press, 2nd edition, 1995, pp. 160-165.]

Check out 100 Hymn Tunes You Should Know

© 2001 Smith Creek Music

Site last updated: February 15, 2007