Hymns in a time of pandemic

As I write the news is full of coronavirus and in the UK Brexit seems to have disappeared off the agenda, at least temporarily. I wonder what our hymnody has to offer in this context?
I sense a mixed feeling from the low-key ‘this is like flu’ or ‘a bad cold’ to the warning that older people are more vulnerable, that this may be fatal and, aside from avoiding one another and washing our hands, there is little we can do. For which hymns do we reach at such times?
Perhaps this is a moment for that style of effervescent worship that lifts us above physical reality and, for a moment at least, takes us out of the world to which, inevitably, we will return when we leave church? Or is it time for ‘Abide with me’?
Are there texts which recognise the finality of our existence, which sharpen our focus and, maybe, our faith ‘till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise’? Is there a middle way
which acknowledges the finitude of human earthly existence while, at the same time, offering some reassurance of the persistent love of God in spite of all things, that love from which, mythologically or in ultimate reality, we can never be separated?

For God is your celestial shield,
no cosmic power, nor human scheme
will separate you from that love
no matter how your terrors teem.

*From ‘Rejoice for things are as they are’ Andrew E Pratt; Partly inspired by Psalm 121 and Romans 8 v38-39 © 2003, 2006 Stainer & Bell Ltd. Full text: https://hymnsandbooks.blog/2020/03/13/rejoice-for-things-are-as-they-are-a-hymn-in-time-of-trouble/

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Andrew Pratt

Andrew Pratt was born in Paignton, Devon, England in 1948.

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