Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail includes Graham Kendrick in his list of 5o people who have wrecked Britain (h/t Dave Walker and David Keen). GK has wrecked Britain, apparently, by writing 400 popular Evangelical hymns. I can’t say I’m a particular afficionado of them, but somebody must find joy singing them. If people’s hearts are stirred to worship God this way, why be snooty and sarcastic about it? Unaccountably, QL’s piece also takes a mean sideswipe at Mrs Alexander’s All things Bright & Beautiful, which I would have thought was right up his street. Beating up old ladies in public is ugly, but it’s a free country, I suppose.
Somebody told me today that what’s really wrecking Britain for them is the angry cynicism, celebrity fixation, base xenophobia, mean spiritedness, superstition and crass materialism they find in the Daily Mail. I don’t often read the Mail, so I couldn’t possibly comment. But a marvellous contraption called the Vodex Mailmaker will help you explore for yourself how the Mail’s worldview saves (or wrecks) your Britain. In seconds I produced my own work of art.
Most of the work we do is by definition less than our very best. Every age’s hymns contain much that is ephemeral, and it’s only as they are sung over many years that the real long-term winners emerge. So it was pure joy to be in a large congregation in Winslow this morning, on the 50th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ death, a day designated as the International Day of Vaughan Williams, singing For all the Saints to his wonderful and uplifting tune.
I think we can all agree that RVW’s contribution to Britain’s worshipping life was sublime and enduring. How come some of our greatest hymn tunes were penned by an agnostic? Music is self-expression, but done with humility, the best music transcends its composers and artists. Great music is great music, and stirs the soul, full stop. God uses it as much as works by pious composers. Oh, and our packed congregation in Winslow also sang a Graham Kendrick hymn (Make Way with its curious evocation of Rule Britannia in the first line).
Nobody walked out, and I'm sure the Lord enjoyed the joke.