What does the
revision of Christian Hymns consist of?
The continuing appeal
of the existing book, now over 25 years old, suggested that it
was a revision rather than a completely new compilation that was
needed. A number of surveys indicated which hymns do not seem to
be in common use. This led us to compile a list of approximately
200 that could be replaced with mainly newer (although in some
cases older) hymns that evidently are widely used today.
How have you gone
about selecting new hymns and deciding which ones to exclude?
We were greatly
indebted to more than 50 churches that presently use the book
who responded to a questionnaire. Many of these sent us copies
of supplements that they have compiled over the years. While not
in any sense dictating the content of the proposed revision
these were particularly helpful in enabling us to get a wider
perspective on contemporary usage. Quite a number of unsolicited
compositions, words and music, were submitted when news of the
possible revision got around and a large number of suggestions
were sent to us. Of course, in addition to all this a
wide-ranging search was made of the not inconsiderable number of
books that have been published in recent years.
How did you deal
with modern hymns?
Hymnbook editors of
many generations have found this to be a contentious issue, but
from the start of our work we were determined to follow the
principles that were followed in the original edition and that,
incidentally, guided Spurgeon when he faced the same problem.
Consequently we always aimed to assess a hymn on its own
intrinsic merits rather than on the basis of its author's
denominational or theological affiliations. We have included a
number of compositions by contemporary authors including
Dudley-Smith, Kendrick, Seddon and Townend, some of which are
widely used among the churches. Besides including many of the
compositions that have become well-known and widely used in
recent years we are also including several excellent new hymns
that have never been published before.
How have you gone
about modernizing old hymns?
John Wesley once famously said of those who presumed to tamper
with his own compositions 'I desire they would not attempt to
mend them; for they really are not able.' We have sought to
follow Wesley's strictures and have always dealt, we trust,
respectfully with what an author has written. Nor have we
yielded to the pressures of making hymns 'gender neutral' or
politically correct, as often seems to be the fashion today.
Quite frankly, we have too much respect for the integrity of the
original authors and for the intelligence of contemporary
congregations. Such modernization as we have adopted has
involved the alteration of obsolete or obscure expressions. In
addition in many (but not all) of the hymns we have substituted
second person plural pronouns and verbal inflections for second
person singular ones provided that this has not involved an
alteration in the poetic and rhyming schemes of the hymns. We
trust that this will meet the needs of those who are unfamiliar
with 'thee's' and 'thou's' while not alienating those who have
no such difficulties.
Who are the people
The editors of the original publication - Revds Paul
Cook and Graham Harrison - were joined by Revd Robert Strivens
of Banbury Evangelical Church and Mr David Clark, Director of
What about the music
for the hymns?
In this we have been greatly assisted by a Music Team
consisting of Mr Philip Watson (one of the original musical
editors), Mr Peter Moss and Revd Brian Freer. While we have not
attempted to break well-loved and proven connections of words
and music, many alternatives were suggested, new tunes included
and where the existing settings were found to be too high for
most modern congregations lower settings have been provided.
Is there a separate
We preferred to place the Psalms (or hymns based on
Psalms) throughout the book in the appropriate categories. This
was the policy adopted in the original edition. However, we
added considerably to their number and have a separate index for
them at the beginning of the book and the MP3 DVD. This will be of
help to those who will want regularly to choose from this
We are looking for a
means of playing Christian Hymns over a Church PA system. Do you
have any means of doing this now or in future with the new
The MP3 version of the hymnbook, coming in 2007, will
make this possible. See our MP3 section.
What are the
copyright limitation of the hymns on the MP3, or printed copies?
Many of the hymns in the New Christian Hymns
are covered by copyright. This is clearly printed in the both
the music and words books. You may be able to reproduce these
hymns under licence using a current Christian Copyright Licence
(and Music Reproduction Licence). Hymns by members of the
Christian Hymns Committee and other hymns without copyright
may be freely reproduced. All copyright issues have been covered
in the MP3 version that that all tunes are included. However a
CCL license is still required.