Book: Duty and Delight: Routley Remembered: A Memorial Tribute to Erik Routley (1917-1982)

Robin A. Leaver, James H. Litton, and Carlton R. Young, editors. Carol Stream, Illinois: Hope Publishing Company, 1985, 310 pp., $18.50.

This book will be of interest to pastors, church musicians, teachers, students—in fact, to anyone who reads this magazine. Through a collection of essays written by Routley's colleagues, students, and friends, the volume celebrates Erik Routley— himself a pastor, church musician, and teacher. The essays reflect the many sides of Routley's work and the many facets of his rich and wonderful personality.

Dr. Routley was a minister of the Word in the United Reformed Church of England and Wales. He taught at Oxford, pas-tored several congregations, and all the while, on matters both theological and musical, he wrote like "an overflowing fountain of all good." His theology embraced the intense experience of Charles Wesley as well as the sweeping Calvinistic vision of Isaac Watts; for Routley these two men were not only great hymnwriters but also powerful theologians.

A decade ago Routley came to the United States to serve Westminster Choir College as Professor and Chaplain. When Dr. Howard Hageman invited him to become the General Editor of the RCA's new hymnal, we were surprised to learn that this foremost hymnologist had never before been invited to "do a whole hymnal." "I thought you'd never ask," Routley told us. In the years that followed, Erik Routley poured his whole life into Rejoice in the Lord.

Duty and Delight, a tribute to Routley, opens with Caryl Micklem's appealing memoir of this great man and closes with extensive lists and bibliographies. In between are essays organized under three headings: "Ministry of the Word," "Ministry of Music," and "Ministry of Hymnody."

For the first section G. B. Caird wrote an excellent biblical meditation on the dialectic of law and gospel as they relate to beauty in worship. (Routley himself often said that the most important attribute of Reformed church music is "chastity.") Robin Leaver's article is a good introduction to the theological issues that pastors and musicians face weekly in leading worship.

The best section of the book is the third, on hymnody. John Wilson's piece on the objective factors of a good hymn tune is a treasure. Pastors, organists, and choir directors—all those who decide what a congregation will sing—should gather around a piano and work through his essay together. Alan Luffs article on Welsh carols reminds us that Routley could make mistakes, and I imagine that some of the Genevan tunes in Rejoice in the Lord might similarly have been treated to better advantage by another editor. Taken together, the last three essays show us the kind of kettles you spoon good hymns out of. We would honor Routley well with a North American Reformed equivalent to the Dunblane conferences.

English Calvinists rarely mine the Reformed faith so deeply as the Dutch, yet they do so much better with what jewels they find. While we profoundly stutter, they give clear expression. They often set their jewels in hymns, and we should fasten these jewels to the solid golden crown of our tradition of liturgy and psalter. We should proceed with Routley's effort to keep our two traditions meeting. With this book his colleagues have put a lot of business on our table and have shown us how to get started.

Routley was an incredible character and wit. He charmed and inspired. This book serves him well and, apart from some annoying typos in a couple of essays, is attractive and inviting. I found myself immediately browsing through the lists and gazing at the pictures. There's much in here to help us take up Routley's tune and in "new songs of celebration render to him who has great wonders done."

Daniel Meeter is pastor of Old First Reformed Church, Brooklyn, New York.


Reformed Worship 4 © June 1987, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.