For the last couple of months, I've given myself a different sort of creative project: to find singable tunes for unsingable hymns.
You know as well as I do that 8 out of 10 hymns have beautiful lyrics but nigh-atrocious, horribly clunky music. It's not just that the melodies are dated, it's that we no longer sing like that – when was the last time Fight The Good Fight or God Moves In A Mysterious Way turned up in church? Exactly, because we can't sing them.
And it's a huge huge shame – these words are our heritage (not to mention being 20 times better than most modern worship songs), and are going to waste. So here I come to save the day …
A few years ago, I discovered by accident that Amazing Grace fits the tune for House of the Rising Sun beautifully, but I was also fascinated to notice how giving the lyrics different melodic emphases somehow brings out new depth of meaning (plus the original context of the tune – the song of a repentant alcoholic – is very appropriate). So that's what I've tried to do: bring new life to old words by singing them anew.
Here are some of my favourites:
Abide With Me
tune: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
How Great Thou Art
tune: Danny Boy
My Song Is Love Unknown
tune: Dock Of The Bay
Onward Christian Soldiers
tune: All Along The Watchtower
tune: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
O For A Thousand Tongues
tune: Blowin In The Wind
God Moves In A Mysterious Way
It Is Well With My Soul
tune: When A Man Loves A Woman
There are a few more too, but I'm winding down in my search now. I find that once I'm on one kind of creative project, I can't really do any others, and I've missed writing – I've not been able to do any of any substance for the last two months. I'm trying to switch back now (working on my story about a school set up to support the children of superheroes)
so I thought I'd mention my hymns before I wave goodbye to them …