The Hymn Society of Great Britain & Ireland

Past Conferences

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For details of previous Annual Conferences, select from the list below -
July 2000
July 2001
July 2002
July 2003
July 2004


Conference, 20th - 22nd July 2004

The Annual Conference in 2004 was held at the Edinburgh Conference Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland.

The main speakers and topics were -

Dr Ian Bradley: "`I to the hills will lift mine eyes . . . ' - Scottish Hymnody from Columba to CH3"
Alan Gaunt: "James Montgomery (1771-1854)"
Graham Maule: "The Wild Goose Resource Group"
Douglas Galbraith and Marion Dodd: "The forthcoming Scottish Church Hymnary, 4th edition"

Dr Ian Bradley was also the Conference Chaplain, together with the Revd Douglas Galbraith.

A "Short Metre" session was addressed by John Matthews, Margaret Garland, Alasdair Fraser, Marjorie Dobson, Christopher Idle, and (in his absence) with a paper read for Ken Bowden.

The Festival of Hymns took place at The Kirk of the Canongate; hymns were introduced by the Revd Charles Robertson, conducted by Mr Ian McCrorie, and accompanied (organ) by Dr John Kitchen.


Conference, 22nd - 24th July 2003

[ for details of the Joint Conference with the North American and European Hymn Societies, held in Halifax, Nova Scotia 3rd-8th August 2003, click here > > > ]

The HSGBI Conference in 2003 was held in Canterbury, at Christ Church University College, from 22nd-24th July.

The Conference speakers were
Marcus Wells, on The work of a translator
Canon Donald (A.M.) Allchin, on The Rejoicing of All Tongues: The hymns of Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig [ see note below * ]
Professor Kasei Furusawa on Christian Hymnody in Japan
Geoffrey Weaver on World Praise (Let all the world in every corner sing)
The Very Revd Dr John Arnold on Strange and Solemn Music

The Act of Praise was held in Canterbury Cathedral, and the commentary was be given by our Exective President, the Revd Alan Gaunt.

[ * Note by Alan Gaunt about the subject of Canon Allchin's lecture - Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig, 1783-1872 ]

A.M.Allchin quotes a tourist brochure, picked up in Copenhagen some forty years ago, in which he read "Grundtvig, the clergyman and poet, has meant more to Danish trade than has Rockefeller to that of the United States. Rockefeller bored for oil. Grundtvig bored in the depths of the people and discovered unsuspected sources of power. From the spiritual and national awakening created by him a good hundred years ago, modern Denmark arose." (N.F.S.Grundtvig: An Introduction to his life and work; DLT 1997)

Grundtvig in his time was, and remains, a national figure in Denmark. He was pastor, poet, theologian and politician (serving in the upper house of Parliament); he was also a prolific and often exuberant writer and translator of hymns. He was nearly contemporary with Kierkegaard, but lived a lot longer and was well known in Denmark when Kirkegaard was virtually unheard of. It is strange that he remains virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. This has begun to be corrected by Donald Allchin's book, which is so significant that it has been translated into Danish. And there are strong moves afoot to get much more of Grundtvig's theological and Anglo-Saxon writings translated into English.

[ A selection of useful Internet Addresses for information on Grundtvig's hymns and songs was distributed at the Lecture; see separate page for descriptions and links to these web sites. ]


The hexennial Joint Conference with the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and with the International Fellowship for Research in Hymnology (I.A.H.) was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from 3rd-8th August 2003. The Conference Title was

From Age to Age and from Land to Land
The Transmission and Translation of Congregational Song

The Conference was based at the campus of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Four Hymn Festivals took place in different churches in Halifax; with additional hymn-singing during outings to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, on the south-eastern coast of Nova Scotia

The main Conference sessions include:
Frank Burch Brown (HSUSAC): "How moveable is the Feast?"
Kathryn Jenkins (HSGBI): "Redefining the Hymn: The Performative Context"
Christian Finke (IAH): "The reception of Foreign Language Hymns in recent European Hymn-books"
Melva Wilson Costen (HSUSAC): "An overview of African American Hymnody 1801-2002"
Graham Deans (HSGBI): "The development of Metrical Psalmody in Scotland"
Franz Praßl (IAH): "Recent developments in Psalmody in Europe"
Michael Saward: "The Jubilate Story: forty years of hymn writing and editing"
Anthony Ruff: "Proper Chants and `improper' hymns; what texts shall we sing in worship?"

In addition there were "sectional" meetings, spread over three conference sessions (seven or eight simultaneous sections at each session), led by members from all three Societies.


Conference, 23rd - 25th July 2002

The Conference in July 2002 was held at Leicester University in the Beaumont and Digby Halls of Residence.

The main speakers and topics were -

 The Act of Praise on Wednesday evening 24th July was held at Bishop Street Methodist Church, Leicester, with a large group of local singers conducted by Richard Archer.The hymns were introduced by Martin Ellis.

At the Society's Annual General Meeting on 25th July, three of the Officers (Executive Vice-President, Canon Alan Luff; Secretary, the Revd Geoffrey Wrayford; Treasurer, the Revd Michael Garland) were confirmed in office for the coming year, Geoffrey Wrayford giving notice of his desire to retire from office at the end of the year 2002-3. The Executive President, Miss Elizabeth Cosnett, concluded her period of office, and the Revd Alan Gaunt was elected in her place. Dr Bernard Massey, having relinquished the post of Bulletin Editor after a long period of service, was appointed an Honorary Vice-President of the Society. Five members were elected or re-elected to serve on the Executive Committee: Mr Terence Atkins, the Revd Douglas Constable, the Revd Graham Deans, Dr Ian Sharp, Mr David Wright.


Conference, 24th - 26th July 2001

The Conference in July 2001 was held at Trinity and All Saints College, Horsforth, West Yorkshire.

The main speakers and topics were -

At a "Short Metre" session on the Tuesday evening, four members of the Society presented brief papers on topics of their own choice:

The Act of Praise on Wednesday evening 25th July was held at Bradford Cathedral, conducted by the Organist and Master of the Choristers, Alan Horsey, with the Cathedral Sub-organist Martin D.Baker as organist. The hymns were introduced by Dr Bernard Massey, Editor of the Bulletin of the Hymn Society.

The Conference Chaplain was the Rt Revd Clive Young, Bishop of Ipswich.

At the Society's Annual General Meeting on 26th July, three of the Officers (Executive Vice-President, Alan Luff; Secretary, Geoffrey Wrayford; Treasurer, Michael Garland) were confirmed in office for the coming year. Dr Bernard Massey's retirement as Editor was noted and his many years of outstanding service was recognized with acclamation. The Revd Christopher Idle was appointed Editor in succession. Six members were elected or re-elected to serve on the Executive Committee: The Revd Alan Gaunt; Mrs Kay Griffiths; Dr Kathryn Jenkins; The Revd Dr Fred Kaan; Mrs Hazel Taylor; Prof. Richard Watson.


Conference, 25th - 27th July 2000

In July 2000 (for the first time in its history) the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland held its Annual Conference in Ireland, at the Church of Ireland College of Education, Rathmines, Dublin. About 70 members and guests participated in residence, together with a number of day visitors. The Revd Graham Deans was Chaplain to the Conference, and led its daily worship. The Annual General Meeting of the Society took place on Thursday morning, 27th July.

The Conference programme included the following:

The Act of Praise was held at Christ Church Cathedral, with RSCM choirs conducted by the chairman of the Irish RSCM, Mr John Crothers, and with Mr Jonathan Hardy, Assistant Organist of St George's Church, Belfast and Organ Scholar elect of Magdalen College Oxford, as organist. The commentary was given by the Executive President of the Society, Miss Elizabeth Cosnett.


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