Words, Images and Imagination – Reviews

Singing the Faith plushttps://www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/worship/singing-the-faith-plus/posts/a-break-from-hymns-a-new-collection-from-andrew-pratt/

Northwich Guardianhttps://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/news/18942916.retired-minister-comberbach-releases-book-poetry-art/

Methodist Recorder / ArtServe Magazine

Poems, Pictures and Photos – produced during Lockdown

Andrew Pratt, ‘Words, Images and Imagination’ – Poems Watercolours Photos, Upfront Publishing, 2020, ISBN: 97-178456-740-8, p/bk, 71 pages. Click here to buy.

This is a beautifully produced collection of 40 poems, 10 photographs, and 14 watercolour paintings all created by Andrew and collected together during these strange Covid-19 times. It vividly and powerfully bears witness to the huge wave of remarkable creativity currently breaking onto our world during this uncharted and unprecedented pandemic.

A large proportion of these poems, pictures and photos have been inspired by nautical imagery, reflecting the author’s long-standing connection with the sea, from early childhood.

The poems have the clear stamp of a seasoned and experienced hymn writer. (He has already over 1500 in print).  They are remarkable for the way they encourage the reader to make full use of her imagination, and for the many hints and resonances with familiar famous words and phrases which readily come to mind. The very first poem ‘The suck of surf through shingle’ might remind us of Matthew Arnold’s famous ‘Dover Beach’, and the alliteration produces striking sounds which resemble Gerard Manley Hopkins. This poetry cries out to be spoken and heard.

Other notables, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, are occasionally referred to by name, and their influence is unmistakable in our poet’s phraseology and skilful word painting.

Many poems draw on feelings and emotions all too familiar during these trying times, even though we are aware that not all of them were written out of the pandemic experience. But ‘Loneliness is a passing place’, ‘Things we know are never wholly certain’, and ‘Firm foundations shift and crumble’, could well reflect our current psychological disruption. There are poems resonating with the sounds of two World Wars, and there are commissions from JPIT (the Joint Public Issues Team of UK churches) which reflect the struggling search for truth and justice in a society still obsessed with, and hidebound by, traditions and ‘doctrines’. As a consequence, every minister should carefully ponder ‘Must this clerical obsession…’, and in ‘After the vote’ we have a powerful reminder of the problems we all face when we listen to the cries of refugees clinging to our shores.

Our author comes across as one who longs for openness and inclusivity, honesty and the need to face up to the reality of pain and death, and the more we read aloud these skilfully crafted lines the more likely are we to hear the strains of this sense of longing. It’s like the fluid tones of the waves and the echoing sound of the sea.

The Watercolours and Photos, which are interspersed among the Poems, add fresh dimensions to the words of this moving collection. Andrew is clearly a skilled painter and photographer, as well as a powerful word-smith. His sense of proportion, his restrained and delicate shading, his unique eye for colour, and his experienced view for composition, all contribute to this splendid poetic treasure-house, this realm of possibility which opens up before us. We can see, hear and feel something of the adventure, mixed with anticipation, which we experience when we cast off and set out on our ‘sea of faith’.

‘Words, Images and Imagination’ is a gift in every sense.

Harvey Richardson – November 2020

Letter to United Methodist Church from UK Methodists

Letter to United Methodist Church – from the President and Vice President of the Methodist Church UK

https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/news/latest-news/all-news/at-a-time-of-political-transition-for-the-us-the-presidency-writes-to-the-united-methodist-church/

Rebuilding starts with weeping – Amanda Udis – Kessler

US hymnwriter and sacred music composer Amanda Udis-Kessler wrote the following text just after the 2020 election and has re-shared it following the violence at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. I have asked and been granted permission to reproduce it here. It is pertinent in the US context but also in the UK and Europe through pandemic and Brexit. Do visit her site - link below.
Rebuilding starts with weeping, with tears that fall like rain,  
With full and honest grieving for years of loss and pain,  
For suffering and sorrow that never had to be.  
Rebuilding starts with weeping for all who are not free.  
  
Rebuilding starts with praying, with hopes allowed a voice,   
With visions for our country, with reason to rejoice.  
We offer up our spirits, our hearts and minds and hands.  
Rebuilding starts with praying for strength to heal our land.  
  
Rebuilding starts with loving, with care for every soul,   
With yearning in compassion that all may yet be whole,  
That enemy and neighbor may know a better day. 
Rebuilding starts with loving, for love will show the way 


It is most often sung to the Bach Passion Chorale.

Amanda’s many other inclusive hymns, worship songs, and rounds are freely available for listening and download at https://queersacredmusic.com

Thoughts on ‘welkin‘and ‘Hark the herald angels sing’

The Methodist blog has recently had this entry and I thank Judith Simms for drawing it to my attention

https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/news/the-methodist-blog/wesley-gutenberg-and-hark-the-herald-angels-sing/?utm_source=Methodist+Church+House&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12049891_The+Methodist+News&dm_i=BVI%2C769R7%2C3Y9PI2%2CT20HZ%2C1&fbclid=IwAR2ZrvGQN0cuyKxqXFCDpStjc27GmES5Ma0k1ylxe4i4gvup5o4sPBi24AU

This is interesting but while the change of ‘welkin’ has been remarked on before I do not concur with Ted Campbell’s admiration for Whitfield. The amendment alters the meaning of the hymn as Wesley originally penned it. Firmament today would be better understood as ‘cosmos’. The word ‘cosmos’, creation, ringing is much more powerful and incarnationally significant than angel song. Charles Wesley write swiftly but chose words with great care. I wonder if we have his reflection on this amendment?