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Hope is our Song: New hymns and songs from Aotearoa, NZ

Publication of the New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2009
RRP: $19.99

Reviewed by Ruth Beasley, a composer and music leader at Mareeba Uniting Church.

Readers who are familiar with Alleluia Aotearoa, faith forever singing and Carol Our Christmas will be delighted to see this new book, another publication from the New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.

The quote on the fly leaf , “158 songs for church and community”, is an apt summary of the contents and it is that combination that draws me to the book.

Here are singable songs with uncomplicated rhythms, well within the grasp of the average pianist, that express the place of the Christian in community in today’s language.

This does not mean that the music is bland, far from it.

The distinct "oom-pah-pah" of Christians are all kinds of People resonates aptly with the words and the gentle flow of Colin Gibson’s tune Forgiveness beautifully compliments Shirley Murray’s words in Because You Came. These two writers have combined to give us a further rich experience in Simply to Be, a reflective piece.

When it comes to patriotic occasions it is not easy to find something modern but here we have, from the same two writers, Honour the Dead – a hymn specially for ANZAC Day. Jocelyn Marshall’s As sisters, brothers, called by Christ does not have a set tune but a recommended one, as also have some pieces by Joy Cowley.

Through the singing of the songs in this book we can express our relationship with God, our belonging to the whole of creation, including our guardianship of it, our concern for social issues and our sense of community and what that involves.

With separate indexes for biblical references, themes, the church year and various worship services access to the contents is made very easy.

Anyone who dips into this book cannot fail to be moved by the breadth of expression to which these songs give rise.

The worshipping community is blessed to have this further publication from the New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.