A seasonal exploration of Singing the Faith

Valerie Ruddle has prepared this programme for reading the 2011 Methodist hymn book in its entirety. Selections have been made for their seasonal relevance.

Part 1 - November

Singing the Faith is a new rich resource for worship and its contents are worth careful exploration. This is the beginning of a thirteen-month plan to read the whole book in mainly seasonal chunks. Do make time to read them all sometime during each month. It takes about twenty minutes to read twenty hymns aloud - and less if reading silently - but allow time to jot down references to any of particular interest. Start with the preface and then the following:

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
2 Gathering in God’s Presence 18 - 38
7 Morning and Evening 134 - 147
8 Sunday: The Lord’s Day 148 - 152


Part 2 - December

A new hymn book deserves study. Reading hymns can be helpful in corporate worship as well as private devotions. Don’t skim over texts you know - and do read the words, not sing them under your breath! More meaning can often be gained without the distraction of the tune. Do not make hasty judgement and ignore texts with opening words or author that do not appeal. List the items you would like to encourage preachers and worship leaders to include in your services, sung or read.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
10 The Promised Christ: Advent 165 - 189
11 The Incarnate Christ: Christmas 190 - 222


Part 3 - January

Our seasonal readings this month take us through the Epiphany section and a time of renewal - many Methodists will be rededicating themselves to the Lord in the traditional Covenant Services. Remember too The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity (18th - 25th).

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
12 The Revealed Christ: Epiphany, Presentation and Baptism 223 - 233
28 Covenant, Commitment and Dedication 544 - 567
35 Life and Unity in the Church 675 - 692


Part 4 - February

Fresh insights can emerge even from familiar texts when they are read instead of sung. As we approach Lent (Ash Wednesday is on the 21st) we will remind ourselves of baptismal promises and of the Last Supper. Notice the wide span of our heritage of hymns contained within one section.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
27 Baptism and Thanksgiving Services 532 - 543
29 Holy Communion 568 - 602
23 Conversion and New Life 439 - 454


Part 5 - March

Many of us will be taking part in Lenten studies. At these, and in small congregations with limited musical resources, hymns might be read rather than sung. Some might be used as prayers, with silence or spoken prayers between each verse.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
9 The Holy Scriptures 153 - 164
13 The Faithful Christ: Lent and Temptation 234 - 241
14 The Ministry of Jesus Christ 242 - 258
15 Jesus Christ Transfigured 259 - 261


Part 6 - April

Holy Week (1st - 7th) is when we reach the climax of our Lenten studies, followed by the burst of Easter joy, but take time to absorb the rich blessings in these sections. Of 59 texts, only 27 were in Hymns and Psalms so there are many new ones to explore.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
16 Jesus Christ: Suffering Servant: the Passion and the Cross 262 - 291
17 Jesus Christ: Risen and Ascended 292 - 316


Part 7 - May

May includes Christian Aid Week (13th - 20th), during which Ascension Day falls (17th). Aldersgate Sunday is on the 20th and Wesley Day (24th), celebrating John Wesley’s heart-warming experience in 1738, is followed by Pentecost (27th). Hymns by Charles Wesley occur in 29 of the 41 sections in Singing the Faith, and there are nine in section 25 alone. Some of his texts are complex and the language not easy to comprehend, but reading them should not go unrewarded.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
20 The Gift and Work of the Holy Spirit 369 - 400
25 Growth in Grace and Holiness 489 - 516
31 Human Life and Relationships 608 - 622


Part 8 - June

With Trinity Sunday on 3rd June, we turn back to the first section of the book, The Nature and Mystery of God, with 10 of its 17 hymns new to us - and 4 new ones in the Marriage section for June brides. If you are getting weary of reading sections of hymns, try a ‘lucky dip’ for a change: open the book at random a few times and note any gems you find.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
1 The Nature and Mystery of God: the Holy Trinity 1 - 17
21 Mission and Evangelism 401 - 418
22 Repentance and Forgiveness 419 - 438
30 Marriage 603 - 607


Part 9 - July

The holiday season has begun, a good time to praise God and give thanks for all his blessings, coupled with moments of prayer. The work of over 170 authors is appearing in a Methodist hymn book for the first time. If you have discovered some whose work particularly ‘speaks’ to you, use the index to find more of their hymns.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
3 The Adoration of God 39 - 69
18 Jesus Christ: Prophet, Priest and King 317 - 340
26 Prayer: Intercession and Petition 517 - 531


Part 10 - August

Many people will be travelling this month so it is a good time to consider our Journey with God and the wonders of his creation.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
19 Jesus Christ: Lord of All 341 - 368
24 Our Journey with God 455 - 488
37 The Wholeness of Creation 724 - 731


Part 11 - September

Harvest Time, but not all the crops are ‘safely gathered in’. Harvest is a continuing process, and in some places disastrous due to too much or too little rain. Remember the hungry. This month sees the start of the Methodist Prayer Handbook 2012/13 in which a daily hymn from Singing the Faith is suggested alongside a Psalm and Bible passage.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
4 Praise and Thanksgiving 70 - 98
5 The Glory of God in Creation and Providence 99 - 118
6 Times and Seasons 119 - 133


Part 12 - October

One World Week and the Week of Prayer for World Peace fall this month, making it an appropriate time to consider not only the need for justice and peace throughout the world, but also our own struggles and doubts. 25 of the 32 texts in section 36 are from sources other than Hymns and Psalms.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
32 Conflict, Suffering and Doubt 623 - 645
33 Reconciliation, Healing and Wholeness 646 - 657
36 Justice and Peace 693 - 723


Finally - November

Reflect on the journey you have taken as you have read through Singing the Faith. What gems have you found? Which authors particularly appeal? May their words deepen your faith and be a rich blessing to you and all who read or sing them.

Section no Section heading Hymn nos
38 Death, Judgement and Eternal Life 732 -742
39 The Communion of Saints 743 - 748
34 Calling and Commissioning 658 - 674


Also by Valerie Ruddle: Make the most of Singing the Faith – ideas for presenting familiar hymns in imaginative and creative ways.