And Number 39, Graham Kendrick

Quentin Letts, columnist for the UK’s Daily Mail, has published a list of 50 People Who Ruined Britain. (HT: Nick Mackison).


Happy-cr*ppy hymns are a pestilence. They demean adult worship, dragging it to a level even lower than that of Mrs C. F. Alexander’s All Things Bright And Beautiful (1848). They are self-obsessed, babyish, cliched, simplistic.


Several authors have written these appalling hymns. The daddy of them all when it comes to such gloopy nonsense, however, is Graham Kendrick, author of Shine, Jesus, Shine.

Kendrick, who has a personal website complete with an efficient shopping section, is the nation’s pre-eminent churner-outer of evangelical bilge. Imagine Pam Ayres without the humour.

He started writing hymns in the late Sixties and has now written 400 of the ruddy things. Should it not be a strength of Anglican worship that it does not move with the times and instead provides continuity at a time of baffling change?

But no. It’s out with the harmonium! In with the electric guitar! Out with the hymns sung by our forebears, such as He Who Would Valiant Be and Hills Of The North. In with the roughagerich Bind Us Together or the negro spiritual cum grammatical solecism It’s A Me, O’ Lord.

The sturdy hymns of England, musical embodiment of the stoicism, resolve and undemonstrative solidarity of our nation, are in severe peril, and all thanks to ill-shaven remnants of the late Sixties – grinning inadequates who have never got over the fact that they weren’t Cat Stevens.

Of course, if Christians adhered to the regulative principle the harmonium and hymns would also be right out but I take his point.

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  1. “Of course, if Christians adhered to the regulative principle the harmonium and hymns would also be right out but I take his point.”

    Keep the Coverdale psalter. Pointed psalms are managable.

  2. Where Kendrick fails, Stuart Townend succeeds. In Christ Alone, How Deep the Father’s Love… Real (and contemporary) hymns are still being written in England.

  3. RubeRad: Yup, we got some good guys. And in fairness to Kendrick, even he’s grown up, probably as a result of the benign influence which Townend seems to have exerted over the general scene. Kendrick recently produced one called “Crucified Man” which is a great meditation on the foolishness of the cross.

    Carson, in Worship by the Book, suggested that the British hymn-writing scene is more vibrant as we don’t have a tradition of “special music”.

  4. Philip,

    re: special music. I did notice that. It’s from American Vaudeville. In that context it was called “traveling music” designed to “cover” the movement of the entertainer from the wings to center stage and back again.

    I’m sure the Apostle Paul always had traveling music. Legend has it that his favorite was “There’s Room at the Cross for You.”

  5. Being hedged in from “love songs, show tunes and lullabies,” the Brits have it all.

    Kendrick may have grown up, but I’ll still take the proper irreverences of Ricky Gervais and Monty Python in my six days and the proper reverence of David on the seventh.

  6. Ah, so that’s where it came from. Carson explained its substance well, but made no reference to its provenance. I was rather stumped as to how anyone could take the view that church music is a spectator sport.

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