Thank you for the copy of Issue 3 of RW you sent me recently, with its use of my hymn "For Your Gift of God the Spirit" as the Hymn of the Month.
I should like to correct the data on the writing of that hymn.
This was written at the Severn River, Ontario, in 1959, not 1976 as stated in Dr. Polman's article. I had been asked by Stacey Woods, then general director of the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Canada and U.S.A., to write a teaching hymn on the Holy Spirit for use in student work. He felt there was a great scarcity of teaching hymns on this subject.
The hymn appeared first in Anywhere Songs in 1960, copyright IVP, and was quickly picked up by British hymnals. At the request of the committee working on IVCF's Hymns II, I wrote the extra four lines (last quatrain of stanza 1) in order to adapt the text to an eight-line tune, rather than the four-line tune used earlier. This version appeared in Hymns II, which was published in 1976. In 1984, in an effort to remove all archaisms from the text and make it totally contemporary, I made the final revision, which is the one you used and the only one that will be authorized for publication in the future. All my Inter-Varsity hymns were turned over to Hope Publishing Co. in 1986; Hope now holds the copyrights.
"We Come, O Christ to You" likewise has a slight error in its data. That hymn, too, was written at the request of Stacey Woods for use in student groups, in the year 1946, not 1949 as stated. It was published in the second edition (1947) of Inter-Varsity's first hymnal, Hymns, under their copyright. It rapidly found its way into hymnals in the United States, but particularly in Britain, where it first appeared in 1957. It remained in its original state until 1984, when I revised it in order to make its language totally contemporary while changing the text as little as possible. This hymn is now copyrighted by Hope Publishing Company, being assigned to them in 1986.
E. Margaret Clarkson
What is Reformed?
I enjoyed your article on "Choirs in Reformed Worship" in RW 2 and found a number of points to be helpful. I would, however, like to use one of your insights to respond some what critically to other practices within RW and the church.
You mention "borrowing practice before thinking theory" (or I would say before thinking theologically) as a common way that change happens. I agree. But it seems that this type of change is exactly what you somewhat suggest blindly in accepting and promoting liturgical colors, children's sermons, bell choirs, tenebrae, terms like "Holy Week" and the "Christ candle," an apocryphal story in which a fictional character is called "the God/ Christ figure," and sermons in which the preacher retells Scripture, adding new elements ("I walked up to the donkey Jesus was… on…"). (All of these are found also in RW 2.)
Few, if any, of these elements, I believe, have their origin and impetus directly in Scripture. Thus, there are items of real value in RW, but also things to question. Much of the RW content could and would be produced by a cross-section of American Protestantism or the Hymn Society of America. Your journal needs to maintain some clear, foundational meaning and theology of what is meant by Reformed—some first principles. Otherwise the idea of Reformed worship soon loses its meaning and savor.
Mitchell, South Dakota