Songs of the Spirit in Poetry and Hymnody

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Fashions in hymn-writing have fluctuated widely since Issac Watts, as a young man in the 17th century, pioneered the art. Until then, churches only sang psalms, later paraphrases, to be followed by the vast output of thousands of hymns by Watts and then by Charles Wesley. Both men became poets in their own right. Later, Victorians took up hymn-writing on a huge scale and in recent times excellent new hymns have been written, often referred to as songs although, sadly, some strong in devotion and sentiment, have been weak in poetry. The contention of this book, the author’s second on the subject, is that hymnody should always be sound in poetic construction and that as, Wesley declared, it should reflect the strength and purity of the English language.


“Dr. Randle Manwaring is a very unusual person. In addition to having been a Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force and serving with distinction in the World War, he also developed an outstanding career in the City of London becoming a Managing Director. But he was also already a poet and has had many volumes of verse published as well as being anthologized variously not only in poetry collections but also in hymn books. In addition he has proved himself an able historian being published by the Cambridge University press. He is an active Christian and has headed up various Christian organizations. Many readers will find his work on poetry in the Bible quite fascinating. In many ways it completes a long life as a poet and scholar.” – (From the Foreword) John Pearce, MA (Oxon), Prebendary, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

Table of Contents

1. Poetry in the Bible
2. Poetry and Hymnody
3. Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs
4. Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley
5. The Nature of Poetry
6. Denominational Niceties
7. Slavery and Song
8. The Life of the spirit
9. Spirituality – Catholic Understanding
10. Spirituality – The Puritans
11. Spirituality – Evangelical and Charismatic
12. “Songs of Praise”
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