Hymn Books: Hidden Treasure

An anonymous person sent to the chapel an envelope last month containing a correspondence card from Mrs Dorothy Mellor, the Welfare Secretary of the Congregational Union of England and Wales addressed to Pastor Edgar West of Martin Top. I imagine one of his heirs found it and thoughtfully returned it to us. 

Unusually, Mrs Mellor was posting to Pastor West her late aunt’s hymn book, which was “a symbol of her convictions”. Perhaps back then, hymnals were more expensive that today, and it was considered a pleasant gift to donate a dead aunt’s hymn book to a pastor with whom you were acquainted. In those mid-war years with their austerity and hardship, this gift might have been a welcome distraction. 

Few Christians now cherish hymn books as they once would have. Finding a good one comes second only to the Bible in terms of spiritual food and encouragement. Even if one cannot know the tunes, their words might be read as divine poetry. I was recently given a copy of Gadsby’s Hymns, No. 511 of which reads:


In every storm, in every sea,

My Jesus makes a way;

His light shall make the darkness flee,

And turn the shade to day.


‘Tis he in trouble bears me up,

And leads me safely through;

My Jesus does maintain my cup,

And daily strength renew. 


(J. Franklin)


Always read your Bible. Sometimes read a hymnbook. Occasionally, read anything else.