What makes hymns stay in the memory – often long after we’ve forgotten much else? It’s not just a question of meter or rhyme, says hymn writer and theologian Jan Berry, though these help. For her, it’s also about the sheer physicality of hymn-making – the “embodied act” – that impacts on our very thought and belief.
The Revd Dr Jan Berry is an Associate Tutor and Research Supervisor at Luther King House in Manchester. She found her way into hymn writing after she established a three-year “hymns for healing” project at the Centre for the study of Theology and Health at Holy Rood House in Thirsk. One of the products of that collaborative project has been Hymns of Hope and Healing (published by Stainer & Bell).
In 2014, Jan addressed the Hymn Society Conference on the subject of Memories, Healing and Hymns.
We are grateful to Jan that she has allowed StF+ to produce edited extracts of that address for this website. Read our edited version: The power of words and music in shaping faith.
The complete paper was reproduced in The Hymn Society Bulletin (Vol 21, No.1, Winter 2015). Download the bulletin here (PDF)
For more about Jan’s work on producing hymns on the subject of healing, see our 2014 article: More to say about Healing.