Local church provides more than 300 free hymn recordings for use across Scotland
Published on 20 December 2023 2 minutes read
A Midlothian parish church has developed a free, online archive of more than 300 hymns, which can be accessed for use by churches and organisations.
Andrew Jack, one of the members of the Cockpen & Carrington choir, said the parish initially began recording church services in 2016 ‘for putting out to members of the congregation who were housebound and couldn't get out to church.'
"During Covid we started extracting hymns from these recordings to use in our online services," he said.
"We thought it might be useful to make them more widely available for others to use in their online services and a few congregations, both within and outwith the Church of Scotland, took them onboard at that time.
"From our point of view, it's to help congregations and organisations who may be coming to a position where they have issues with hymn singing through lack of organists or pianists, especially in the more rural parts of the country where these situations may be more of an issue."
Graham Burnside, choirmaster and organist at Cockpen & Carrington Parish Church, said the parish's mode of worship is fairly traditional, with most of the recordings coming from the church's CH4 hymn books.
"I suspect this makes the archive particularly useful to those who can readily find more contemporary religious music online but perhaps find locating usable versions of traditional hymns more challenging," he said.
"The fact that we have produced accompanying texts to all of the hymns is an attraction too I think."
The archive is now accessed by multiple congregations and organisations all year-round, however it is at its most popular closer to Christmas.
Commenting on this, Mr Burnside said: "I think at least part of the longevity of the familiar Christmas hymns comes from the fact that so many are learned in childhood (sometimes, as with Away in a Manger, at a very early age) and even those who move away from the church in later life can find them very evocative."
However, Mr Burnside himself said he would find it difficult to pick a Christmas favourite.
"One I am very fond of anyhow is ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear', both for the music, which is an English folk tune skilfully expanded by Sullivan, and the text, which with its focus of ‘peace on earth' is all too resonant this year," he said.
To access the archive, visit Cockpen & Carrington's website here.
On the website you will find two sample recordings along with instructions as to how to request free access to view the entire catalogue of hymns and download the recordings.