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Essay Comments

  • The Speechless Sing

    I enjoy music, I enjoy the physical process of singing, of feeling rhythm; of hearing melody; of letting the music sweep through the imagination and transport me somewhere new. We live in a society that has forgotten how to sing, yet singing together is still an integral part of church life and for many of us it is the only place where we are allowed to sing without embarrassment. Within the congregation we are joined as one voice a people gathered in praise and acclamation, each part coming together as a whole. As a leader of worship it is through my hymn choices that each service will be judged and accepted/rejected as a valid expression of our faith - hence this attempt to study two congregations from the perspective of the hymns they sing (or would like to sing).

    The aim of this piece of work is to look at the role of hymns through the voices of two congregations and one minister. We will attempt to look at the relationship between favourite hymns and our faith; exploring the validity of the view that we learn our theology through our hymn singing. We will see which theological themes seem to have most importance and which may be missing. We will attempt to create a portrait of each church from the hymns they have chosen. We will examine which new hymns are becoming favourites, do they say something new or is it the old story in new clothes? We will look for hymns that can become teaching tools - highlighting the gospel message within our song.

    Rejoice, the reign of God is here;
    the broken down stand tall
    the speechless sing,
    we all draw near
    To crown him Lord of all
  • Bolton Labour Church

    The Labour Church was formed in October 1891 when John Trevor attempted to create a religious organisation which would meet the needs and concerns of working people. It flourished for a decade, providing a place where socialists could meet, express themselves and listen to the band of itinerant socialist preachers who viewed the labour movement as a religious movement. Labour Churches were involved in the formation of Independent Labour Parties and in the first national conferences. They continued with rather less influence in the early years of the twentieth century before dwindling away in the years up to 1914. What overall influence they had is difficult to gauge;. ...

    The purpose of this essay will be to look specifically at the Labour Church in Bolton, telling those bits of its story which can be ascertained or surmised, reflecting upon its internal and external relationships and exploring its influence within the town. In most accounts of the Labour Church movement, Bolton warrants a short mention. As Pelling, quoting the Labour Prophet of May 1892 says, "At Bolton . . . the Rev. B.J. Harker made his church a Labour Church 'so far as their constitution as a Congregational Church would allow'" (1963, 134) and the assumption seems to be that the link remained. What seems to have been previously missed is that within nine months the Labour Church had split from Dukes Alley Congregational Church and Harker had become persona non grata within the Labour Church movement.

  • U2 - A Prophetic Imagination?

    My introduction to U2 was at a student party somewhere in Loughbourough in about 1981. The song was I will follow, it's driving, exciting rhythm was infectious, hopeful and yet there was a youthful uncertainty - "Do you like it?" someone yelled, "Yes, I acknowledged, "They're Christian's and they're great" he shouted back and I listened closer to this proclamation of belief, discipleship and loss.


    if U2 are engaged in a prophetic ministry, their role as songwriters and performers leaves them ideally placed to

    articulate the imagined alternative

    dismantle the dominant culture through radical criticism and lament

    energise the alternative community through the language of amazement and new doxologies

    and thus penetrate the despair so that new futures can be believed and embraced.

    Do U2 have a Prophetic Imagination?