I have been writing hymns since 2006 and you are very welcome to use any of the seventy or so that are on his page. I’ve noted where a hymn tends towards particular occasions/seasons, and which tune I had in mind. Sorry that they are not in any particular order! I am working on a way of indexing them more usefully.

Only some of my hymns are currently registered with CCLI – these are marked as such, and you can simply include them on your CCLI return.  You can also find these hymns on the Jubilate website. If you’d like to use any of the others, please do help yourself, and just include a note that it’s copyright (c) Ally Barrett.

Commissioning a new hymn:
I am often asked if I would write a hymn for a special occasion or for a theme or situation that isn’t well served by existing hymnody. I am always happy to be approached, even if I can’t always say yes, and while I’m almost always happy to try, I can never absolutely guarantee to succeed.


This was written for Coventry Cathedral, as the final hymn of their diamond jubileee celebration service, on 25th May 2022. The first, second and final verse are suitable for any service on the general themes of reconciliation, forgiveness, diversity, and so on. The third verse is particularly suitable for the Cathedral, reflecting on the history of that specific building and how destruction paved the way for its ministry of reconciliation. Most of the scriptural, cultural and theological references are probably fairly obvious, but if anyone would like me to provide a short commentary, I’d be very happy to do so.

Be in our midst, and gather us together,
and let your loving-kindness be our guide,
Help us discern your image in each other,
and walk with humble footsteps by your side.
Send us to work, O Lord, Almighty Giver,
‘till all who thirst and hunger now are filled,
Let justice thunder like a mighty river,
And let the storms of strife and conflict now be stilled.

When all the world’s great sorrows overtake us,
and we are crushed by centuries of pain,
lend us your strength, and lovingly remake us
that by your grace we may be whole again.
And when the sins of passing generations
make all the wounds of hist’ry still feel raw,
send out your healing power among the nations,
and fill this broken earth with heaven’s peace once more.

*A verse for Coventry Cathedral only  
And if the cross, the site of such destruction,
a sign of violence, suffering and sin,
can be redeemed to witness resurrection,
and be a place where life can still begin,
then iron and wood and stone can sing their stories:
‘Father, forgive’ these very walls have prayed,
that what was lost could birth still brighter glories,
and what was hurt can be transfigured and remade.

Grant us that peace beyond the mind’s discerning,
Help us to live the truth that sets us free.
And may the Spirit’s fire within us burning
help us become who we are called to be.
In eager longing for your new creation,
a world reshaped by love and hope and grace,
with Christ the Prince of Peace as our foundation,
we’ll build your kingdom now, in this and every place.

Tune: Londonderry Air (


You came to raise the last and least,
to set the long-held captive free,
to fill the hungry with a feast,
and give the poor their dignity.
You let the silenced voices speak,
and helped the lowly sing their song,
embraced the outcast, blessed the meek,
revealed a world where all belong.

You showed your strength in stooping low
and humbly washing dusty feet, 
forsaking heav’n for earth, to show
how power can choose to leave its seat.
Teach us this same humility,
renew our hearts that we might learn
how we can set each other free
from tables you would overturn.

You brought the news of kingdom come,  
a feast where all are found and fed,
where no-one needs the fallen crumb,
for all will share the living bread:
a kingdom where division ends,
where first and last can sit and eat:
when all are one, you call us friends,
your work of love at last complete.

tune: Ye banks and braes, or St Patrick’s Breastplate, or the one specially composed for it, found here.
This hymn needs to go on your CCLI return:
Words © Ally Barrett / Jubilate administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd  


Lord, in our waiting and watching, we pray
that you would watch with us as night turns to day,
and if morning comes and we still cannot stand,
through every long moment keep holding our hand.

Lord, when our tears do not bring us relief
you weep at our side in our pain and our grief;
Whenever it seems that we suffer alone,
In life’s hardest moments, Lord, make yourself known.

Lord, in our anger when pain is ignored,
when voices are silenced, experience is scorned,
Sustain us, and raise us to speak and be heard,
and soften hard hearts with the power of your word.

Lord, in our weariness, give us your peace,
the hope that the world’s many troubles will cease,
Then help us to find that in each place of need,
your love is transforming each thought, word and deed.

(Tune: Slane)

This is your body, for your people giv’n,
We break the bread, and voice the sacred song;
Food of the angels, taste of highest heav’n,
crumbs dropped for all who fear we don’t belong:
We are your body, help us dare to share
all that we have, and offer all we are.

This is your blood, the pain that makes us whole
With love was pressed from Christ’s live-giving vine,
The smallest sip can warm the coldest soul,
And fill the human heart with fire divine:
We are your body, help us yearn to share
all that we have, and offer all we are.

We are your body, fed with heavenly food,
Washed through the blood that flows with heavenly love,
And then you send us, by that love renewed,
to find that earth is full of heav’n above.
We are your body, in your grace we share
all that we have, and offer all we are.

(Tune: Finlandia, or Gibbons’ Song 1)

Dark is the night, the passing hours are long,
Lone voices whisper sorrow’s silent song,
Each faltering prayer will fear it’s made in vain,
When will we sing the world to life again?

Dark is the night; not all are blessed with sleep.
Some wake and work, and some must watch and weep:
Angels disguised, they tend a world in pain,
Off’ring the hope that there’ll be life again.

Dark is the night, the silent hours are slow,
Heav’n’s tears anoint the suffering earth below,
Blessing with dew the secret springing grain,
Pledge that the world will soon know life again.
Written for Easter Eve 2020 at the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown
(Tune: Eventinde, aka Abide with me)

Here is a youtube version of the song, which my son helped me to record and multitrack right at the start of lockdown in March 2020:


Hope for the world’s despair:
we feel the nations’ pain;
can anything repair
this broken earth again?
For this we pray:
in every place
a spark of grace
to light the way.

Wisdom for all who bear
the future in their hand,
entrusted with the care
of this and every land.
When comes the hour,
O Lord, we pray,
inspire the way
we spend our power.

Honour for all who’ve paid
war’s painful, bitter price,
when duty called they made
the greatest sacrifice.
Their memory
will never cease
to cry for peace
and harmony.

Ease for the troubled mind
in endless conflict caught,
each soul that cannot find
the peace beyond all thought.
May they be blessed
with healing balm
for inner calm
and perfect rest.

Love for the human heart:
when hate grows from our fears
and inwardly we start
to turn our ploughs to spears.
Help us to sow
love’s precious seed
in word and deed,
that peace may grow.

Written for the Jubilate ‘Hymns of Peace’ competition, 2018. 
Tune: Love Unknown, by John Ireland.
You can see what Jubilate did with it here.
This hymn needs to go on your CCLI return:
Words © Ally Barrett / Jubilate administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd  


Let the silent voices sing,
Let this place with music ring,
Let us all with boldness bring_
To God our newfound song.

Bring a rhyme or melody,
Bring a note for harmony,
Gathered in diversity
In Christ we all belong.

Sing to comfort and inspire,
Balm of souls and hearts’ desire,
Let us breathe the Spirit’s fire_
To keep our voices strong.

This one was written for Sarah MacDonald, director of music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, to a tune of hers, and for a service celebrating women in church music.  I enjoy working creatively with ‘givens’ so I went for a Trinitarian thing: three verses; a rhyming tercet for the first 3 lines of each verse; the last line of each verse forming another rhyming tercet; and a move from Father to Son to Spirit through the verses; all of which echoes the triple time beat of the tune.


Have mercy, Lord, upon us all,
reach out and help us when we fall.
Forgive us for what we do wrong:
it is to you that we belong.

Your love and wisdom makes me whole;
O set your truth within my soul.
Wash me and I shall be like new,
as pure and fresh as morning dew.

A song of hope breaks through my tears,
it heals my wounds and calms my fears.
The past can now be left behind,
For I have peace of heart and mind.

You make for me a loving heart,
my spirit has a fresh new start.
And so my new-found voice will raise
to you a heartfelt song of praise.

To you my thankful heart I bring:
a good and worthy offering.
For I am precious in your sight,
I am your treasure, your delight.

Accept the gifts we bring to you:
our thoughts and words and all we do.
Bless us in this and ev’ry place,
and fill our hearts with heav’nly grace.

This is a metrical version of Psalm 51, designed to be in accessible language. It was written for a school choir to sing alongside the Allegri setting, and goes to the tune of the traditional plainsong compline hymn.


Lord of our life, our beginning and end,
Our Father, our shepherd, our Saviour and friend,
We look to your teaching in each fresh new day
To lead us and guide us and show us your way.

Ten laws to teach us to live in your love,
Ten ways to make earth more like heaven above,
Ten rules to inspire all we think, say and do,
To help us be faithful in following you.

You are our safety, our great mother hen,
Whenever we wander you call us again,
We’ll always be drawn to your loving embrace
To nestle beneath the soft wings of your grace.

This is our story, and this is our song:
For we are your people, to you we belong,
Wherever life takes us, in all that we do,
Our hearts will find peace when we’re resting in you.

Written for Helen and her churches. Tune is Slane.
Explores Lenten themes and images.


O Christ, our Shepherd, brother, friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
Our Lord, Way, our Truth, our Life,
It is for you we sing:
Accept this sacrifice of praise
from voice and heart and soul,
For only in your Love, dear Lord,
can we be truly whole.

“A priest for ever you shall be
Enthroned in heav’n above.”
Yet still we know on earth below
The blessings of your love.
You did not cling to heav’nly bliss
but chose to share our pain,
Your life and death and rising still
draw earth to heav’n again.

One sacrifice, made once for all
on Calvary’s blessèd tree,
You stooped to lift up all who fall,
were bound to set us free.
And still through you we make our prayers
and know that we are heard,
For you have opened heaven’s door,
O loving, living Word.

Make us your holy people, Lord,
in this and every place,
that we, through word and sacrament
may know your saving grace.
You call us here as servants, guests,
as sisters, brothers, friends:
to gather and be richly blessed.
with life that never ends.

I was asked to write a hymn, to the tune ‘Kingsfold’, on the theme of ‘Christ the eternal priest’, for a friend’s first mass. (I cheated slightly in that the last four lines are from another hymn I wrote earlier – if I can think of another ending I’ll replace them one day!)


Jesus made water into wine
For joy and celebration,
Bless-ed abundance as a sign:
Foretaste of heaven, love divine!

In sickness or in health
In poverty or wealth
The greatest gift is love.

What God has joined we’ll not divide:
For love endures for ever.
Faith, hope and love will still abide,
Two lives entwined, lived side by side.

In sickness or in health
In poverty or wealth
The greatest gift is love.

Vows made this joyful, solemn day,
To honour, love and cherish.
This is love’s kind and patient way,
Living the wondrous words we say.

In sickness or in health
In poverty or wealth
The greatest gift is love.

I was asked to write a wedding hymn to the tune of ‘On Ilkley Moor’ and due to my complete inability to work out how to get a normal 8686 metre to fit to the tune, I wrote this instead. I now do understand how to get existing 8686 words to fit, but thought I might as well keep the words.


In every generation
Some rise to claim the hour
and break oppression’s silence
By speaking the truth to power.
When courage meets with conflict
Our hearts must still be stirred,
That in our words and actions
God’s love is seen and heard.

We claim a shared vocation
As stewards of this earth,
Affirming all God’s people
In dignity and worth.
May all our children’s children
Take their intended place
In all that God has purposed:
One equal, human race.

O God, in whose great kingdom
The first and last shall meet,
With love and justice freeing
The mighty from their seat;
May all your kingdom-builders
Continue true and strong,
Creating, in our own day,
A place where all belong.

These words are an adapted version of a hymn I originally wrote to the tune ‘Ewing’ (Jerusalem the golden), at the request of St Martin in the Fields, for a BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship broadcast in February 2018.  It would also go to pretty much any 77676D iambic tune, of which there are many. I was delighted when the lovely @onehymnaweek chose to set these words – you can listen to it here:

Here is the more occasion-specific original text:

There came a generation
Who rose to claim the hour.
They broke oppression’s silence
By speaking the truth to power.
Their courage met with conflict,
Yet still their hearts were stirred,
Their sole determination
To make all voices heard.

They claimed a shared vocation
As stewards of this earth,
Affirming all God’s people
In dignity and worth.
May all our children’s children
Take their intended place
In all that God has purposed:
One equal, human race.

O God, in whose great kingdom
The first and last shall meet,
With love and justice freeing
The mighty from their seat;
May all your kingdom-builders
Continue true and strong,
Creating, in our own day,
A place where all belong.


Now send us out to serve you, Lord,
and show the love of heaven above,
We gladly go to serve you, Lord,
on this and every morning.

Now send us out to serve you, Lord,
Your peace to grow on earth below,
We gladly go to serve you, Lord,
on this and every morning.

Now send us out to serve you, Lord,
to share your grace in every place,
We gladly go to serve you, Lord,
on this and every morning.

Now send us out to serve you, Lord,
In all we say and think today
We gladly go to serve you, Lord,
on this and every morning.

Now send us out to serve you, Lord,
to live for you in all we do,
We gladly go to serve you, Lord,
on this and every morning.

My train was delayed so while I waited I wrote this, to the tune of ‘I saw three ships’.
It’s not profound, but it might be useful to someone somewhere.


Solemn notes of tribute sounded:
Gratitude and celebration.
By such history surrounded:
Legacy of inspiration.
From that ground new growth is springing,
From those songs new voices singing;
Through each passing generation
Still our hope in God is founded.

All our life in wisdom growing,
God’s good purposes discerning;
Words and deeds of virtue flowing
Through the sacred gift of learning.
When the world seems lost to violence
Hope and love must break their silence,
Grace in human nature turning
To the truths that are worth knowing.

Blessings for our lifetime, lending
Grace for work and love and leisure,
Gladly spent, and gladly spending
all to find our heart’s true treasure.
Choice and chance unfold each story,
May our lives reflect God’s glory,
Then when time completes life’s measure
We may know a perfect ending.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to St Catharine’s College, Cambridge for their vision and commitment to empowering young women through music (specifically, by means of their girls’ choir) which has enabled my daughter to have a first rate musical education and experience some things that I never had the chance to do at her age (or indeed ever!). This is what I wrote for the College’s Commemoration of Benefactors service in 2017. At the Director of Music’s request, the tune is chorale Schmucke Dich, usually sung to the words, Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness).


Little baby, sweetly slumbering,
Cradled and cuddled in Mary’s loving arms.
In the sky are angels gathering,
but for now, here below, all is still and calm.

Little baby, our Emmanuel,
God with us, one of us, born to be our king.
Little baby, while you slumber,
Far above you angels sing.

We know you came to save us all…
But how can God become so small…?
For God so loved all he had made
He sent his Son the world to save……

Little baby…

This was written for a friend, who wanted a new carol to sing as part of a nativity play. It goes to the tune of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (from Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite).



Praise for the depths of space,
its endless scope and scale:
in such a vast embrace
our words and numbers fail.
For what are we,
that mortal mind
should seek and find

Praise for the rules that show
the patterning of time,
creation’s ebb and flow
expressed in reason’s rhyme.
Can these great laws
contain our awe,
a formula
for wonder’s cause?

Praise for the complex codes
each spiral strand conveys,
as chemistry explodes
to life in myriad ways.
Can we compare
what’s ours alone
if we are known
through all we share?

Praise for the drive to know;
from human nature springs
a need to learn and grow,
to understand all things.
Yet wisdom’s prize
is never won:
from all that’s done
new questions rise.

Praise to the one whose Word
breathed purpose into chance,
for whom all matter stirred
to join creation’s dance.
For love made known
in every thing
in praise we sing
to You alone.

This was written for Ely Cathedral’s Science Festival (May/June 2017).
The tune is Love Unknown.



A children’s song for Palm Sunday. To the tune ‘she’ll be coming round the mountain’.

1. He’ll be riding on a donkey when he comes (x2)
He’ll be riding on a donkey,
Riding on a donkey,
Riding on a donkey when he comes.

So we’ll sing hosanna when he comes (x2)
So we’ll sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
Sing hosanna when he comes.

2.We will all come out to meet him when he comes…

3. We will throw our cloaks* before him when he comes…

4. We will wave our palms to greet him when he comes…

(*or coats, or whatever)


This was written for Birmingham Diocese, for the launch of their mission strategy document. This hymn needs to go on your CCLI return, and the copyright notice is as follows: 

Words © Ally Barrett / Jubilate | administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd  copyrightmanager@jubilatehymns.co.uk

Here and now we’re bound together:
held in one divine embrace.
Help us see, in one another,
difference as a gift of grace.
As each passing generation
worships you in fresh new ways,
join our songs with all creation,
lift our voice to sing your praise.

Lord, affirm our shared vocation:
may we bring your plans to birth,
build your church on sure foundations,
fit to serve a troubled earth.
Growing, praying, sharing, learning,
deep in wisdom, broad in scope,
love-revealing, truth-discerning,
living out the gospel hope.

In your work of transformation
you are making all things new.
Stir our hearts’ imagination,
call us now to work with you.
Send us out to share your mission;
show us each our part to play
as we live the  Great Commission
joyful in the world today.

(tune: Abbot’s Leigh, or any suitable 8787D trochaic tune)


I wrote this for someone who was planning a service to pray for all those who work as safeguarding officers.  One sets out to write a hymn about this subject with a certain degree of fear and trembling.  But here it is. As always, it’s free for anyone to use – you don’t have to ask.   Feedback is always welcome, too, and I’m grateful to the editors of ‘Singing the faith’ for their helpful suggestions that led to this final version.

The tune is Corvedale (that’s the triple time tune that’s often used for There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy).

May this place be one of nurture
where we all may come to know
how your endless love sustains us
as we live and move and grow.
May we work to build your kingdom
full of truth and light and grace,
living life in all its fullness
held in one divine embrace.

From our negligence and failures
you have called us to repent,
drawing energy for action
from the voices of lament.
As the secret hurts long hidden
may at last be brought to light,
may the truth unlock the freedom
that is every person’s right.

For you hold the broken hearted
till they learn to live again,
and your justice stands like mountains,
while your mercy falls like rain
when the smallest child is valued,
and the strong empower the weak,
when each human life is hallowed
and the unheard voices speak:

So with humble thanks we praise you
and we lift to you in prayer
all the people you are calling
to this ministry of care.
Give us wisdom, grace and courage,
holding fast to all that’s good,
seeing Christ in one another
we will love and serve our Lord.



In the wake of 50 gay people murdered in a night club in Orlando, an MP murdered in her own constituency, and UKIP publishing what many feel to be an advert inciting racial hatred, I couldn’t sleep. Too many fears and tears for such a broken world. So I wrote this as a prayer, to the tune Kings Lynn (aka O God of earth and altar) – though any suitable sombre 7676D tune would work. It’s been sung to Corvedale, and it’s also had two tunes specially written for it: Finsbury Park  and another one for which I have lost the link(!) which is in a more contemporary style. As with all my hymns, please do just help yourself: share, sing, print, whatever’s helpful.

O God of all salvation
In this, our darkest hour,  [alternative text: in every darkened hour]
Look down at your creation
With pity and with power.
In all the pain we’re seeing,
For parent, partner, friend,  [alternative text: For stranger as for friend]
We’ll cling with all our being
To love that cannot end.

O God, your loving passion
Is deeper than our pain,
Look down, and in compassion
Bring us to life again.
When we are found despairing,
When all seems lost to sin,
We’ll hear your voice declaring
That love alone will win.

O God, when hate grows stronger,
With fear to pave its way,
The cry, ‘Lord, how much longer?’
With broken hearts we pray.
In all that is dismaying
In humankind’s freewill,
We’ll join our voices, praying
That love will triumph still.

O God, whose love will never
Be silenced, stalled or stilled,
Set us to work wherever
There’re bridges to rebuild.
We’ll take our life’s vocation
To make, like heav’n above,
In this and every nation
A kingdom built on love.


This was a first reaction to the murder of 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The tune is O waly waly.

A world in shadow once again,
So full of loss, and grief and pain:
O Lord, how long? your people pray
that love at last will win the day.

A world where gay and trans and queer
must live their daily lives in fear:
O Lord, how long? your people pray
that love at last will win the day.

A world where human life is cheap,
Where family, friends and lovers weep:
O Lord, how long? your people pray
that love at last will win the day.

Your rainbow people pledge today
to show the world a better way,
O Lord, how long till earth begins
to see that this is how love wins?


Here’s a Holy Communion hymn to the tune ‘Slane’.  This hymn needs to go on your CCLI return, and the copyright notice is as follows: 

Words © Ally Barrett / Jubilate | administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd  copyrightmanager@jubilatehymns.co.uk

Come to God’s table, for all is prepared,
The bread we have offered is broken and shared,
Christ’s presence among us is food for the soul,
reviving, renewing, and making us whole.

Come to God’s table, and drink of the wine,
the blood of the Saviour, in mystery divine,
The cup of salvation both priceless and free,
transforming God’s people to all we can be.

Come to God’s table, we come as we are,
we bring all the burdens we’ve carried so far,
in body, in spirit, in soul, mind and heart,
to feed on the grace only God can impart.

Come to God’s table, then go in that grace
to hold all the earth in a heav’nly embrace,
Sent out in the Spirit to tend and to care
in thought, word and action, our life is our prayer.


Advent Wreath Song
to the tune ‘Father we place into your hands’

Mothers and fathers of the faith, who lived in time of old,
Leaders and judges, kings and queens were faithful, true and bold,
Travelers, heroes, shepherds, all with stories to be told:
Still they show us how to follow you.

Prophets and seers who spoke the truth in answer to your call,
finding new ways to bring your word to people great and small,
living their lives to show your love was meant for one and all,
still they show us how to follow you.

John, in the desert calling out, ‘The Kingdom has come near.’
‘Come and repent, and be baptised, there’s nothing then to fear.’
‘Jesus is coming now, the One you’re waiting for is here.’
Still he shows us how to follow you.

Mother of God, the angel called her favoured, full of grace,
Holding the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, in her embrace,
She is the one whose ‘yes’ helped God to save the human race,
still she shows us how to follow you.

And this last verse, for Christmas day, is by my friend and colleague Gill Robertson:

Jesus our Saviour, born a king, we welcome you today,
Lord of all time, Immanuel, with joyful hearts we say:
You are the Christ who came to earth for us; and now we pray,
Help us all to daily follow you.

Here’s an extra verse for This little light of mine, that works with the Sparkly Christingle Talk

When I am feeling dull and grey,
and sunshine seems so far away,
when I don’t know quite where to start,
I remember the stardust in my heart:
all it needs is a tiny spark
to get me shining in the dark,
So Jesus, give me your fire divine
to let my little light shine!


This one goes to the tune Bunessan (Morning has broken). It’s based on the theology behind the gospel story about tax: ‘render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s; render to God that which belongs to God’. Basically, the coin had an image of the Emperor on it, but the image of God is found in humanity, so our true tribute to God is ourselves. This hymn needs to go on your CCLI return, and the copyright notice is as follows: 

Words © Ally Barrett / Jubilate | administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd  copyrightmanager@jubilatehymns.co.uk

Here we are giving,
out of our plenty
fruit of thanksgiving,
tribute of love:
hearts overflowing
cannot stand empty,
constantly growing
grace from above.

Gathered together,
gratitude springing
from one another,
in all we do:
serving and caring,
praying and singing,
building and sharing,
offered to you.


This has been adapted from a hymn that I wrote for QE2’s birthday, now suitable for the coronation of KC3.
Tune is Praise my soul the king of heaven

Praise the Lord for faithful service,
offered through each passing year;
hear our prayer, ‘May God preserve us’
through the times of joy and fear.
Bless our king, and in God’s Kingdom
Give us strength to persevere.

Praise the Lord for faithful vision,
guide us as we watch and pray,
make us wise in each decision,
all we think and do and say.
Bless our king, and in God’s Kingdom
We will play our part each day.

Praise the Lord for faithful living:
sharing faith in deed and word,
trusting, hoping, still believing
all that we have seen and heard.
Bless our king and all God’s kingdom,
as we love and serve the Lord.


This is an Advent hymn, to the tune ‘Picardy’ (aka Let all mortal flesh keep silence). This hymn needs to go on your CCLI return, and the copyright notice is as follows: 

Words © Ally Barrett / Jubilate | administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd  copyrightmanager@jubilatehymns.co.uk

Longing for a hope-filled morning,
Kingdom of the Son, draw near!
Waiting for the day soon dawning,
Light of love that casts out fear.
Dayspring, come from heav’n, in lowly birth,
Come to warm this cold, dark earth.

Sorrow through the world is sweeping,
Bitter conflict rages still,
Heaven hears its children weeping:
price of humankind’s freewill.
Come, O Prince of Peace, in lowly birth,
Come to mend this broken earth.

Reaching out through human history,
Bring your scattered children home,
Such an act of love! What mystery:
God in human flesh and bone.
Come, Emmanuel, in lowly birth,
Show how heav’n embraces earth.


The first ever Godparent Sunday in the Church of England was on 1st May 2016 – The Powers That Be felt that it deserved a hymn all of its own, so they asked me, and I wrote this one.
tune: Slane aka Lord of all hopefulness

Thank you, O Lord, for the gift of this day:
a time to count blessings, to think and to pray,
support us, inspire us, and call us anew,
help us to be faithful in following you.

Bless us in keeping our promise to care,
our loving commitment to always be there,
we’ll smile at each moment of joy and success,
and when life is bitter, our love is no less.

Bless us with patience, with care and with time
to listen, to challenge, to open our mind,
exploring life’s questions in wonder and awe,
and sharing the wisdom that loves to learn more.

Guide us, O Lord, as we walk on life’s way,
Discov’ring together fresh blessings each day,
O Lord of our journey, we ask you to show
the paths we might follow, the ways we may go.


This hymn started as a sermon, then spent some time as a sonnet, before being repurposed as a late Advent hymn. It would go to Woodlands or similar. 

Words of the prophets since the world began
So long before salvation’s human birth
Speaking of God’s tremendous loving plan
for heav’n to touch the long-estrangèd earth.

Those ancient words at last began to be
in flesh and skin and bone and blood unfurled
In maiden womb and half-made family –
so heaven stooped to touch a fallen world.

Amongst the stable beasts behind the inn,
the baby’s eyes saw first a mother’s love;
and though their world, like ours, was full of sin,
yet in their gaze the earth met heav’n above.

We cry aloud for peace, goodwill to all,
and for God’s heaven to touch his earth again,
We bend our ears to hear the angels’ call,
and raise our voice to join the great Amen.


This was written for Rita, whose church is dedicated to the Transfiguration, as there aren’t many hymns written for that particular feast day and they wanted to sing something new!  The tune they asked for was Ellacombe (‘The day of resurrection’), as they enjoy singing it at Easter and wanted to use the tune again for their patronal festival.

All glory be to Jesus,
all joyful songs of praise!
Ascend, with him, the mountain,
And on him fix your gaze.
For Christ reveals his glory:
The Son’s bright shining rays;
The veil, worn thin, breaks open
to set the soul ablaze.

On earth, a glimpse of heaven,
in darkness, dazzling light;
From lowly plain and valley,
to holy mountain’s height.
Now all the world’s divisions
in Jesus may unite:
An ordinary moment
is blessed with God’s delight.

The light of light eternal
to faithful eyes is shown,
The mystery of the Godhead
miraculously known.
The seeds of Jesus’ passion
in glory once were sown,
so fruits of resurrection
could out of death be grown.

The words of affirmation,
of challenge and command,
To listen, learn, and follow
in all that God has planned.
May graceful transformation
by God’s almighty hand,
empower us now for service
in this and every land.


This one goes to the tune ‘Kingsfold’.  Thanks, as always, to those who helped me get it ready for posting, and further comments are of course always welcome. I guess this would work for any communion service, but I had it in mind for Corpus Christi. 

A gift each day, our daily bread
reveals your faithful love,
you keep your pilgrim people fed
with manna from above.
We live, not by this bread alone,
but by your holy Word:
so feed our hearts, and make us one
in you, O Christ our Lord.

All are invited, called from far
and near, to eat this fare;
As all we have, and all we are,
are gifts to grow and share.
You are the host, and we your guests,
You greet us as your friends:
to gather and be richly blessed.
with life that never ends.

In broken body, life-blood shed,
true love was once made known.
In pouring wine and breaking bread
that love again is shown.
We are your body, fed today
for strength, for grace, for good:
Break us and send us out, we pray,
to bring the world its food.


Here’s a hymn for Easter day, written for the very lovely Cate Williams. It’s based on the John 20 gospel reading about Jesus and Mary in the garden. The tune is Praise my soul / Lauda anima. As always, help yourself if you like it.
If you want one that’s more for the Easter season, then try this.

Early, while the world was sleeping,
to the garden Mary came;
lost in lonely grief, still weeping
till in love you spoke her name.
Alleluia, alleluia
Nothing now can be the same.

See, the sunlight, slowly dawning
overwhelms the shades of night,
welcoming this glorious morning,
rising with the Light of Light.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Death and darkness put to flight.

Trusted as the first apostle,
Mary swiftly made her way;
bearing this, the Easter gospel
to a world in disarray.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Good news for the earth today.

Risen Jesus, come and greet us:
Speak our name, we are your own;
In your generous love you meet us:
in our lives that love is shown.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Resurrection life made known.


This hymn is about work, so is one of those hymns that will be useless on almost every occasion except for the tiny few occasions when it’s useful.
Tune: Melita (Eternal Father, strong to save). This hymn needs to go on your CCLI return, and the copyright notice is as follows: 

Words © Ally Barrett / Jubilate | administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd  copyrightmanager@jubilatehymns.co.uk

For all with heavy loads to bear,
with calls to serve, protect and care,
Whose work and life bring hard demands,
With others’ welfare in their hands.
Lord, help them thrive in all they face,
Upheld by your all-loving grace.

For all who find their work to be
A test of their integrity,
in contracts brokered, deals secured,
In choices faced and stress endured,
Lord, grant to them the strength they need,
To follow you in word and deed.

For all who long for work and pay
To buy enough to live each day.
When skills are offered yet ignored,
And patience reaps no real reward,
Lord, where we only see despair
send purpose, hope and justice there.

For all whose work is never done,
Whose call is answered in the home,
Frustration, tiredness, love and care
Combine to build the kingdom there.
Lord, give to all whose work is love
Your inspiration from above.

In all we think and say and do
Our lives are holy, Lord, to you;
in every labour, great or small
be evermore our all in all.
In all our actions, Lord, we pray,
work through us this and every day.


This hymn is based on the Ely Diocese Vision Statement
The original tune I thought of was Guiting Power (Christ Triumphant, ever reigning) but the composer of that tune doesn’t like it used for anything else, so I wrote this one, which I’ve called Wulfstan_Way  (which is a street in Cambridge near where we live)
It would work as a processional/recessional/offertory

Gracious God, your love has found us,
bound us, set us free.
Take our lives, transform us into
all that we can be.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us to be Christ-revealing,
radiant with your light;
generous as a hilltop city,
visible and bright.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

 Call us all to live the kingdom,
active here and now;
Life affirming, world-renewing.
Church above, below.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us all in love discerning,
strong in word and deed;
sent, commissioned, gladly serving
all who are in need.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us as your loved disciples:
learning, growing, fed;
Send us out, as new apostles,
Leading as we’re led.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us deeply, touch our souls through
worship, prayer and word,
teach our minds to feel in echo
myst’ries yet unheard.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us, as you called creation
when the world began,
Guide our hearts’ imagination
to your loving plan.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.


Here’s something for Ash Wednesday. The tune is ‘Let all mortal flesh’.  

Dust to dust, we mark our repentance,
entering a guilty plea,
Ash to ash, we face our sentence,
Sin confessed for all to see:
Now these signs of all our falls from grace
mark us for divine embrace.

Dust of earth once shaped and moulded
into this, our human frame,
Body, mind and soul enfolded,
given life and called by name.
Now O Lord remake our damaged form,
Hold us till our hearts grow warm.


This was written for the service in York Minster on 17th May 2014, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of women priests in the Church of England – anyone is welcome to use it, though. 
The tune is Londonderry Air.

Glory to God, the mother of creation,
in love you brought the universe to birth,
then gave your life to purchase the salvation
of all the sons and daughters of the earth.
Glory to you, for love that’s shown through history:
the warp and weft that patterns time and space.
By grace you’re known, yet known to be a mystery,
and we can touch eternity in your embrace.

Glory to you for calling us to service,
shepherds and stewards, messengers and priests,
we give ourselves in gratitude and gladness
as guests and hosts at your thanksgiving feast.
Our hearts exult in loving affirmation,
We sing with joy, your greatness we proclaim.
Your praise resounds in every generation,
Our souls with Mary magnify your holy name.

We are united, in Christ’s body dwelling,
one in the Spirit: wind and fire and dove;
one in the grace and hope of every calling,
to lift the ways of earth to heav’n above.
Through all our lives your power is ever flowing,
To show your work of love is underway;
Stir up your gift in us, your grace bestowing,
so we may speak and live your Word afresh today.


This one was written for Yvonne Brae’s church, who wanted a bouncy song for Epiphany – it’s a very simple one, to the tune ‘Sing hosanna’.

Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show the way to find the Lord of lords,
Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show us how to find the Lord.

We bring gold for a king, keep us serving,
We bring gold for a king today.
We bring gold for a king, keep us serving.
Keep us serving Jesus every day.

Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show the way to find the Lord of lords,
Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show us how to find the Lord.

We bring incense today, keep us praying,
We bring incense to him today.
We bring incense today, keep us praying,
Keep us praying to him every day.

Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show the way to find the Lord of lords,
Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show us how to find the Lord.

We bring myrrh now to help us remember,
For the sacrifice that he made.
We bring myrrh now to help us remember,
to remember Jesus every day.

Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show the way to find the Lord of lords,
Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show us how to find the Lord.

We bring all that we have to his manger,
We bring all that we have today,
We bring all that we are to his manger,
As we offer him ourselves today.

Star of wonder!  Light to lead us!
Show the way to find the Lord of lords,
Star of wonder! Light to lead us!
Show us how to find the Lord.


This one might work at Epiphany, or any time when we get the Light of the World readings.  The tune is Gonfalon Royal (generally used for ‘The Royal banners forward go’)
As always, if you like it, you’re welcome to use it.

O radiant Lord and Light of light,
who turns earth’s shadows dazzling bright,
O flame of love that heav’n  imparts
to warm seven billion human hearts.

The colours of your dayspring’s glow,
a rainbow-gift to earth below,
to spread the spectrum of your grace,
dispersed through this and every place.

O light that shines to guide our way,
Bless’d Son, illuminate our day!
And grant our eyes a friendly spark
to lead us through the hours of dark.

Now bring to light the things we fear,
and make our moral vision clear,
Remove the darkness from the soul
and make us bright and brave and whole.

Still greater is the light unseen
transcending what our sense can glean:
our hearts’ imagination kneels
in awe at what our faith reveals.

O God, Creator, Christ, the Son,
And Holy Spirit, three in one:
To you our gathered voices raise,
Your universe unites in praise. Amen.


At various times there have been challenges issued on facebook and twitter, seeking alternatives to All Things Bright and Beautiful, Lord of the Dance, and Jerusalem, at weddings. Here are some fruits of those challenges.

The most observant of you will spot that I’ve used the second verse tune for both verses (the difference is in the rhythm of the penultimate line). I’d like to thank those who commented on the first draft of this and helped me improve it. 

Freely we give, and freely share
All that we have, and all we are,
Our pledge to cherish and embrace,
Made through this covenant of grace.
With soul and body intertwined,
We give ourselves, in heart and mind,
to deeper union day by day,
and walk in step along life’s way.

[Alternative less personal version of verse 1:
Freely to give, and freely share
All that we have, and all we are,
A pledge to cherish and embrace,
Made through this covenant of grace.
With soul and body intertwined,
two lives together, heart and mind,
in deeper union day by day,
to walk in step along life’s way.]

Kindle a flame both bright and bold,
Out of the earth bring purest gold,
Turn all our water into wine,
Teach us new songs of joy divine!
Give us your patience, make us kind,
Increase our faith that we may find
that in true love, good Lord, we pray,
we’ll walk together all life’s way.


This next one is to the tune: Lord of the dance

Love, faith and hope are free
to all who live abundantly,
So lead us, Lord, wherever we may be
in the dance of life for eternity.

The gift of love is a powerful thing,
Blessed and worn in a golden ring,
The vows are the binding of our lives,
words for all that the heart believes.

The gift of faith is the gift of care,
The words that say, “I will always be there.”
For better, for worse, in joy and pain,
faith brings love to life again.

The gift of hope is a burning fire,
a guide we can follow that will never ever tire,
A lamp to guide us in the darkest night,
and show us the path that leads to light.


And finally, ‘All things bright and beautiful’

Bless this sacred moment
with your greatest gift of love,
Bring us ever closer
to the joy of heaven above.

All future growth and flowering
are rooted in our past:
two lives entwined together
in promises that last.

Lord, make us more forgiving
to those who do us wrong,
give patience and endurance
and peace our whole life long.

The care of those around us,
our families and friends,
uphold us and inspire us
to love that never ends.

A ring to seal the promise,
A kiss to touch the heart,
A prayer to know the blessing
that you alone impart.


This is an Eastertide hymn to mirror the wonderful Epiphany hymn, ‘Songs of thankfulness and praise’, attempting to capture the lectionary stories of the season.  I know there’s more than one tune used for the Epiphany hymn, so I guess that means that whatever tune you’d use for that one, you could also use for this one!  There is also this new tune, written specially for these words by Kathryn Rose: http://artsyhonker.net/art-house-a-hymn-for-easter/

Life comes to an upper room,
breaking through the fear and gloom;
walls and door-locks are no bar:
Jesus meets us where we are.
Life dispels the doubt of grief
bringing hope and new belief;
touching scars – these signs of pain
bring us back to life again.

Life comes to a broken heart,
bowed by sorrow, torn apart;
in the darkness of our tears
Jesus speaks to calm our fears.
On our journey life comes home,
in this fellowship made known;
with Christ’s body we are fed:
life revealed in broken bread.

Life comes to a sunlit shore,
sharing food with friends once more;
Fresh new callings banish guilt,
hope and faith and love rebuilt.
Jesus’ vict’ry over death
brings new life with every breath,
to the world it’s freely giv’n,
reconciling earth with heav’n.


A Hymn for Candlemas (aka the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple)  Tune: Repton. 

Dear Father God, we gather here
In this great house of prayer.
We come just as we are to you
as one who knows us through and through,
and keeps us in your care,
in love beyond compare.

Dear Father God, we praise the name
of Jesus Christ your Son,
The light for all the nations shines,
we see how your salvation binds
all people into one,
and brings your children home.

Dear Father God, we sing your praise
for promises come true.
As young and old our voices raise
and joyfully proclaim, “God’s ways
are heaven breaking through
to make the earth anew.

We praise you, Father, for you own
our future and our past.
Your promised kingdom soon shall come,
and then, when earthly life is done
your love will hold us fast,
in heaven’s peace at last.

So Father God, may each of us
go out into this night
to share the joy you give to us,
to praise, to sing, to teach, to bless
all people with your light,
and make earth’s darkness bright.


A Baptism Hymn

Tune: All Things Bright and Beautiful)

Bless this water, bless this child,
Upon this joyful day:
Bless us as we gather here
and lead us on our way.

We hear your voice from heaven,
speak blessings from above,
such words of affirmation,
encouragement and love.

Your faith in us is stronger
than we can ever know,
You see our true potential,
and guide us as we grow.

You give us light in darkness,
and hope when we despair,
You strengthen us in weakness
and hold us in your care.

We pray for peace and purpose,
for happiness and fun,
for health of mind and body,
till life’s adventure’s done.


A hymn for Bible Sunday.
Tune: Regent Square, or other compatible 878787 tunes.

Word of life! Such transformation!
bringing light to darkest space;
loving mother of creation,
forging life in every place.
Shine that light on every nation,
gather us in your embrace.

Word of truth! You spoke though history,
prophets knew you as their friend;
As you shared with earth the mystery
of your love that knows no end.
Yet your fullest glory must be
More than words can comprehend.

Word made flesh! You came to meet us,
pitched your tent among our own,
Born on earth so heaven could greet us:
God in human heart and bone.
Teach us, lead us, tend us, feed us
with the life that’s yours alone.

Words of scripture, here you teach us,
All you speak is here received.
Shared by print and voice to reach us:
written, read and now believed;
Speak again to all and  each, as
faith is grown and life is lived.


A hymn for All Souls
Tune: ‘Repton’ (Dear Lord and Father of mankind)

We place into your hands, O Lord,
the souls of those we love:
we trust your promise is not vain
that all, through grace and faith, may gain
a place in heaven above,
a place in heaven above.

We place into your hands, O Lord,
this world and all its care,
The grief and hurt and pain we feel,
when desperation makes us kneel
in silent, wordless prayer,
in silent, wordless prayer.

We place into your hands, O Lord,
These burdens that we bear:
Each sorrow and each past regret,
And ask that in our hearts you’ll set
your peace beyond compare,
your peace beyond compare.

We place into your hands, O Lord,
our future and our past:
And as you bless us on our way,
and travel with us night and day,
your love will hold us fast,
your love will hold us fast.


This is about the healing, empowering, live-giving touch of Christ
Tune: ‘Slane’
This one is very loosely based on the story of Jesus healing the woman bent double (Luke 13.110-17).

Jesus, our Saviour, your life-giving breath
brings order from chaos, and life out of death;
You give us your blessing, now help us impart
that gift to our neighbour­ as a gift from the heart.

Jesus, our healer, the touch of your hand
fills us with new confidence, helps us to stand;
Your strength in our weakness is power indeed
to stand up for others whatever their need.

Jesus, our brother, your love never ends:
makes slaves into children, helps strangers make friends,
may love be the lesson we learn and we teach,
may love be the motive for our actions and speech.

Jesus, inspirer and source of all good,
we stand here on earth as of old you once stood;
The Church is your body,  the task you begun
is ours to continue till the work here is done.


A song of Moses and Miriam
a metrical version of the canticle usually used at the Easter Vigil
Tune: Kingsfold (the second part of the tune should be used for the doxology)

O sing aloud to God our strength
whose glory conquers all,
His mighty power has raised us up~
While horse and rider fall.
We sing in worship, for to God
All praise and thanks belong,
Our voices raise the melody
Of our salvation’s song.

This is our God, whom we exalt
Until the world shall end;
The Lord who saved our fathers will
To us his love extend.
He did not leave us in our plight
But to the rescue came,
Our strong defender in the fight,
Jehovah is his name.

His powerful hand has been our shield
And glorious is his might,
And all the hosts of evil now
are shattered at the sight.
The breath divine that gave us life
The mighty flood sets free,
And so the water’s swirling rage
Devours our enemy.

Almighty is the power of God,
His love will never end,
He has redeemed us, set us free,
and leads us by the hand.
And now he brings us to that place
Where we may dwell secure,
The holy house of God shall be
Our haven evermore.

All glory be to God on high,
The Father, Spirit, Son,
To whom we raise the melody
Of our salvation’s song.


An offertory hymn based on four terms for the Holy Communion:
Verse 1: Eucharist
Verse 2: Lord’s Supper
Verse 3: Holy Communion
Verse 4: Mass
Tune: Abbot’s Leigh

Here we sing our great thanksgiving,
Tell again God’s tale of love:
Sin undone, for Christ’s self-giving
Breathes forgiveness from above,
Here we make our humble offering:
All we have, yet more we owe;
So the heavenly celebration
Finds an echo here below.

Here we take the bread from heaven,
Broken, torn, the crumbs we share;
Here we drink the living fountain,
Quench our thirst, our souls repair.
Here recall Christ’s loving passion,
Arms spread wide, he bore our pain;
Suffering servant, scorned Messiah,
God’s own loss has bought our gain.

Here Christ’s love is shared among us,
All are welcomed, none left out.
Here God’s reconciling Spirit
Brings an end to fear and doubt.
Let our hands be made for healing,
May our tongues speak words of peace;
Let God’s justice rule for ever,
And his righteousness increase.

Here may we receive our mission,
Here accept your gracious call.
Speak again your great commission:
Show the Way of Life to all.
Send us, Lord, to live your gospel,
Christ’s new body let us be.
Then at last around your table,
All may feast eternally.


One about Vocation, ministry and mission, entitled
Hope of our calling

Tune: Woodlands

Hope of our calling: hope through courage won;
By those who dared to share all Christ had done.
Saints of today, Christ’s banner now unfurled,
We bring his gospel to a waiting world.

Hope of our calling: hope with strength empowered,
Inspired by all that we have seen and heard;
This call is ours, for we are chosen too,
To live for God in all we say and do.

Hope of our calling: hope with grace outpoured,
From death’s despair the gift of life restored;
Our call to serve, to wash each others’ feet,
To bring Christ’s healing touch to all we meet.

Hope of our calling: hope by faith made bold;
To sow God’s righteousness throughout the world;
Bring peace from conflict, fruitfulness from weeds,
The kingdom’s harvest from a mustard seed.

Hope of our calling: Spirit-filled, unbound,
Old joys remembered and new purpose found,
Our call refreshed by sacrament and word,
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord.


Four further verses for John Bell’s Take O take me as I am

Take, O take me as I am,
let me hear you call my name,
set my soul ablaze and
never quench the flame.

Take, O take me as I am,
Let me with your glory shine,
in my weakness show your strength,
your life in mine.

Take, O take me as I am,
let your hope in me abide,
grant me faith to take each step,
your love my guide.

Take, O take me as I am,
Draw me into your embrace,
All I have I give to your
transforming grace.

(v. 1 (not included here) © 1995 WGRG, Iona Community)


Two hymns for Mothering Sunday

All our blessings
Tune: All things bright and beautiful

All our blessings, all our joys
With thankful hearts we sing,
God of love and faithfulness,
Accept the praise we bring.

For parents and for children,
For partners and for friends,
For those whose care enfolds us
With love that never ends.

For fellowship and friendship
For all we have to give,
For those who’ve shared our journey
And taught us how to live.

For all who’ve shared our sorrow,
Walked with us in our pain,
Who’ve held our hand through darkness
And showed us light again.

In sacrifice and service
Your love is clearly shown,
Your outstretched arms embrace us
to bring us safely home.

For those who give us life and breath
Tune: O Waly Waly

For those who gave us life and breath,
For love that’s stronger far than death,
Today we bring our thankful hearts,
For all a mothering love imparts.

For kindness, patience, warmth and care,
For each embrace, each smile, each tear,
Each word of peace, each healing touch,
These simple gifts which mean so much.

We look to you, our mothering Lord,
Who shows love’s cost, and love’s reward,
Your passion fiercer than the grave,
Nailed to the world you came to save.

So teach your people how to live,
How to endure, how to forgive,
Teach us to trust, to sacrifice,
To share the love that has no price.


A song for Holy Week and Easter
Tune: O Waly Waly

If we’d been there so long ago
When Jesus died upon the cross
Would we have walked with him along
That way of anguish, pain and loss?

Would we have stood and watched him there,
And heard him cry with dying breath?
Would we have seen him give his life,
and hand the victory to death?

Would we have grasped what nailed him there –
It was our pride and cruelty,
Our lying, fear, injustice – these
Died with our Lord upon the tree?

When dawn first broke on Easter day
And new light shone not from the sun
But from the Son, would we have seen
that dark had died and light had won?

But just as then, we turn our back,
The light is bright, our eyes are dim,
We live as if our Lord is dead,
And hand the triumph back to sin.

So break our hearts, these caves of stone,
To set the resurrection free,
And loose our limbs from darkness’ shroud
To live, and live abundantly.


A post-communion hymn
Tune: Golden Sheaves or other 8787D Iambic

May we who gather in your name
find your dear presence near us,
and offering our prayers and praise
keep faith that you will hear us.
May we who’ve shared the peace you bring
now take that gift to others,
draw all into your household turning
strangers into brothers.

Through words of song and scripture’s truth
you aid us in our knowing,
and by this teaching may we be
in grace and wisdom growing.
Through all our lifetime’s journeying
we know you walk beside us,
so when the pathway seems unclear
Lord, by your Spirit, guide us.

May all who share the bread and wine
and all who seek your blessing
now find ourselves empowered to go
our strengthened faith confessing.
So send us, Lord, into this world
which needs to hear your gospel:
transform you faithful people
from disciples to apostles.


Eternity in our hearts
A hymn for the 2009 Ely Diocese clergy conference

Tune: Highwood
This one used to have five verses, but it got rather dramatically rewritten during the conference at which it was to be sung – and not just by me, there was a whole group of us tussling with it by the end!  It was all a bit traumatic actually, but helped me work out a few things, thanks to the wonderful keynote speaker on the conference, Stephen Cottrell, now Bishop of Chelmsford. 

Lord of all time, our end and our beginning,
shaping the whole in which we play our part,
open our eyes to see your way unfolding,
and keep eternity within our hearts.

Lord of all truth, inspiring and surprising,
keep us alert and watching through the night,
seeking the signs of your salvation dawning
in lives illumined by your glorious light.

Lord of all hope, your song of consolation
echoes through time, in this and every place;
Now and in every future generation
we’ll sing this story of transforming grace.


Be here, Lord, in your churches
Based mostly on the seven marks of a healthy church

Tune: The Church’s one Foundation

Be here, Lord, in your churches,
And shine through us your light,
As cities built on hill-tops
We’ll not be hid from sight,
O give us, Lord, the courage,
the energy and drive
to make our faith turn outwards,
incarnate and alive.

May we, in words and action
Bring all your plans to birth,
Make us your holy people
for this, your needy earth.
When  all our aspirations
Can’t set our hearts on fire,
Lord, fill us with the passion
that you alone inspire.

Lord, give us roots that nourish
the branch, the leaf, the shoot,
And help us by your pruning
To yield a richer fruit.
Lord, save us from distractions
that human minds devise,
And give us grace to strive for
the trophies you most prize.

Are we a true communion,
diverse and yet as one?
A house with doors wide open,
and room for all who come?
Renew your church in mission,
In ministry and grace,
That all who seek may find you,
In this and every place.


Metrical Gloria

Tune: this will happily go to St Denio (Immortal invisible) or Away in a Manger.

We join with the angels, our voices we raise,
To give you the glory, and sing forth your praise.
We pray for the peace you alone can bestow,
To fall down like rain on your people below.

O Lord God almighty, and heavenly King,
Accept the thanksgivings and praises we bring,
For though you are mighty, the Lord God above,
For us you are also the Father we love.

Christ Jesus, Messiah, and God’s only Son,
The Lamb who was slain, who now sits on heavn’s throne.
Your death conquered evil and cancelled our sin,
In mercy, receive all the prayers that we bring.

All glory to God in the highest of heaven,
The Father, the Son and the Spirit be given.
To you and you only our praises we sing,
Our Lord God and Father, our heavenly King.


The Shepherd

Tune: Tyrolean melody
with thanks to St Augustine

There came a shepherd from the hillside
searching all alone.
He came to seek and save the lost,
And welcome us back home.
‘O come to me, beloved child’,
The shepherd spoke his plea:
‘Your heart will never find its rest
Until you rest in me.’

We hoped to prove our worthiness
in duty and in care;
We sought you, Lord, in rules and laws,
And thought to find you there.
In all our searching, we forgot
What deep inside we knew:
Our hearts could never find their rest
Unless it was in you.

O search us out and know our ways
In waking and in sleep;
Protect us through the day and night
And in your presence keep.
We travel on in life and faith
And find that it is true:
Our hearts will never find their rest
Until we rest in you.


This next song was intended to make a link between the ‘Jesse Tree’ / Salvation History pathway through advent, and the Advent Sunday theme of keeping alert and being ready.
Tune: Sing hosanna

There’s a story to tell of creation,
And the patriarchs’ faith of old,
There are stories of prophets and sages,
We’ll repeat them ‘til the world’s been told:

Sing together! sing together!
Sing to welcome in the King of Kings.
Sing together! Sing together!
Sing to welcome in the King.

There are stories of sin and forgiveness,
Of a Kingdom of truth and love.
Of a girl who gave birth to a baby,
To fulfil God’s promise from above:

As God’s people prepare for his coming,
And remember those days long gone,
Our own stories are yet to be written,
As we live to make God’s kingdom come:

We will patiently wait for the morning,
Through the night we will watch and pray,
As we look for the light that is dawning,
We’ll be ready at the break of day:


Being present to the Lord

Tune: I wrote this with Tallis’ canon in mind, but the very wonderful @artsyhonker has written it a great new tune, which you can read and play on her blog.
Written for the closing worship of a supervision course for ministers

Be present, Lord, among us here,
And speak to drive away our fear,
And as a stranger seeking rest
Be with us now as host and guest.

Our mind and spirit, flesh and bone,
Our past and present, things to come:
To you, O Lord, we now present –
We gladly spend, are gladly spent.

Our presence, Lord, we dedicate,
This time is yours, and we will wait,
To friend and stranger may we give
The gifts to help each other live.


I found this versified ‘Prayer of Humble Access’ on my computer, half finished, with no recollection of having started to write it.  Now I’ve finished it, I can’t actually imagine a situation in which it would be preferable to sing this than to say the standard version of the prayer, but there you go.  I guess it would go to any 8686 iambic tune (ie anything that sounds like How sweet the name of Jesus sounds). 

We come to this, your table, Lord,
Not certain of our rights,
But trusting that your mercy finds
us worthy in your sight.

We would not dare to eat the crumbs
That from your table fall,
But for your invitation which
Extends to one and all.

For you, Lord, are a God of love,
Your mercy never ends.
Your grace has brought us here today,
And now you call us friends.

In bread may we receive Christ’s flesh,
To clean our bodies through,
And in his life-blood wash ourselves
to be remade anew.

Lord, grant us grace to seek your face,
and come and dwell with you,
And dwell in us, that we may find our-
selves more Christ-like too.

Everyone here has a part to play as we love and serve the Lord today. Come to Jesus, follow in his way, in all we do and think and say. All are members of one body, building God's community!
A gathering song to the Tetris theme
The above is a tune that I’m pretty sure I wrote that’s in the same metre as Guiting Power (plus a refrain with scope for between 15 and 17 syllables).  Think of it as a less good-looking stunt double for Guiting Power, but sort of the same vibe. 

Slightly random simple song based on the summary of the law and that nice bit from Micah: 

Here it is as a .pdf: We_love_the_Lord_our_God

63 thoughts on “Hymns

  1. Great words, where’s the music I was sure you would have written, having been such a great composer at school?!?

    1. That’s very sweet of you. I don’t write a lot of music these days, and with hymns it’s amazingly difficult to get a congregation to try new music – they don’t mind singing new words to a tune they know, but they get scared of a tune they don’t know! So I sort of gave up writing tunes, and just wrote new words instead… Glad you liked the words, though. How are you doing these days? I see bits and bobs on facebook.

      1. I found your site almost by accident – a very happy accident! I love your hymn for All Souls, which I found while looking for a suitable alternative to ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’ and ‘Abide with me.’ Do you have anything for a single funeral? I fully endorse your comment on people being scared of new tunes, by the way. In one parish I taught them and the organist was wonderful at working them into his voluntary. In another I got threats of resignation!

      2. I’m glad you found my site – welcome! And that’s a great question. I’ve not written a funeral hymn, but now you mention it, it would be well worth thinking through what the need is, and what tune might be well known enough to be accessible etc. I shall mull that over…. If there are particular things you think it would be good to include in such a hymn, I’d love to hear your thoughts. The character of funerals has changed substantially just during the 15 or so years that I’ve been taking them, so it would be interesting to reflect on whether we need to be able to offer people something fresh, or whether the very thing they want is ‘changelessness’ at a time of vulnerability. Lots to think about…

      3. I just remembered! I did actually write a funeral hymn, specifically for a baby funeral, but I was never confident enough about whether it was ‘right’ to publish it… perhaps I should revisit that one and see if it is redeemable.

  2. You can get congregations to sing new music, but it takes a bit of work and cooperation from your organist/music director/whoever.

    1) If you have one, see if you can get the choir to sing the new tune (possibly to old words!) as a Communion hymn a few times.
    2) In the weeks running up to the use of the new tune, ask the organist to play it as part of the processional or recessional voluntary (whichever people are more likely to listen to), or even a short verse after the reading of the Gospel if appropriate.

    If people have heard it a few times, they’ll find it much easier to sing.

    3) Having sung the new tune, don’t abandon it; use it again in a few weeks time, if possible. (Again, you might want the choir to do this with different words.)

    If copyright allows, I also find it helps to include music notation for the melody in whatever the congregation are reading from. At our church we have a fair number who read music “a bit” but don’t sing in the choir, and between them and the ones who pick up tunes quickly by ear, it isn’t so terrible.

    4) Try to get people to sit close together. If you are Anglican this is probably the hardest step.

    1. You’re right about the sitting together! We have a choir once a month at our all age service, and we do try the other things too. The frustrating thing is that when we do introduce a new hymn (and we try to make sure that they’re always good ones) and use it a few times, it then becomes a familiar hymn and everyone likes it. It’s just that first bit that feels scary for the congregation. But we are moving in the right direction….

  3. Thank you for your hymns. I found them while looking for new material for a lay-led Rogation service ( I like The Shepherd). Because you are a musician (as I gather from comments) your words and rhythms do really fit the tunes you suggest: such a relief, when this is NOT always the case with new hymns!

  4. Only just discovered you! and yesterday, with your sparkly Christingle idea. What great resources! I used to be a music teacher, now a priest, and have experience of everything from cathedral music ( 3 sons who were choristers) to New Wine ( sacrosanct week away every year). My church would love these words, thank you so much. 🙂

    1. You are so welcome. It’s a bit of a random mix of stuff on the site, to be honest, but you are welcome to anything you find here. There’s a whole page of about twenty or so hymn, a few poems, some clipart, and bits and bobs of other resources. It makes me happy when things I’ve done are useful to others 🙂

  5. Leading workshops at day with RSCM and Musicademy on Saturday – expect quite a mix of participants so hoping Hope of our calling will appeal across the board. Thank you!

  6. Thank you! I have been introduced to ‘Hope of our calling’ by our ordinand who is studying with ERMC and we will sing it this Sunday (Vocations Sunday). I will also offer your new words to ‘All things B&B’ to our wedding couples and baptism families in fervent hope and prayer!

  7. P.S. How about a new Advent wreath song? We’re fed up with ‘The holy and the ivy are dancing in a ring’ but haven’t found anything else yet.

    1. Which themes do you use? I wrote one that alludes to the patriarchs/prophets/Jesse tree thread and links it to the being ready thrust of the Advent 1 readings, but if you wanted something more specifically geared to the wreath, eg something with a verse for each week and a repeating refrain, I can have a go – let me know what you’d like.

  8. Thank you so much for Hope of our calling…I was recently ordained to the permanent diaconate ….I had first sang the hymn during ministry training at ERMC..I loved it so much I chose it for my final hymn. ..our choir enjoyed singing ….you can see them here …http://youtu.be/mmVE3110KtI The hymn starts at around 1hr 08 …thank you so much again

      1. Dear Revd Ally, thank you so much for Hope of our calling. I first heard it at a Lay Ministers’ licensing service in Christ Church cathedral. We’re going to use it tomorrow at St Stephen’s Upper Basildon – it seems very suited to All Saints and doubly so as its Communion as well.

        Looking through your hymns I can see you’re very talented and there are others with great words too. Thank you for your generosity.

  9. Thanks so much! We used (and will use again) the refreshing and relevant words of the hymn for Mothering Sunday here in Bombay Cathedral (India). God bless you and your family in your ministry.
    Ravi Joshua
    (Organist & Choirmaster, St Thomas’ Cathedral, Bombay)

  10. I am planning to use “A Song of Moses and Miriam.” How would you like for me to credit your work in our service bulletin?

    1. I’m very happy to hear that this hymn is having another outing – I’m never sure how many churches actually sing the canticles at the Easter Vigil these days. I hope your congregation enjoy it. How about something like this?
      Words are (c) Ally Barrett and may be reproduced freely

  11. Just putting together the liturgy for Young Women, Your Call vocations conference – and am of course using The Hope of our Calling. Thank you my friend – wish I were a precentor sometimes, so I could play with liturgy more 🙂

    1. You are very welcome – delighted the hymn will be useful, and enjoy your liturgical play while you have the chance!
      Did you also find ‘Glory to God, the mother of creation’? It was written for the 20th anniversary of women’s ordination to the priesthood.
      It’s on this page somewhere, but if you can’t find it, let me know and I’ll send it some other way! It may not quite hit the spot, so no pressure either way!
      A x

  12. Thanks for your creativity & generosity Ally – we’ll use the 2 hymns for Mothering Sunday in our (Australia’s) 2 Mother’s Day Services this Sunday 8th May ’16.

  13. Thanks for your creativity & generosity Ally – we’ll use your 2 Mothering Sunday hymns this Sun 8th May ’16 – in our (Australia’s) 2 x Mother’s Day Services at St John’s – with appropriate acknowledgement & thanks.

  14. Hi Ally,

    Well, that was a surprise this morning to hear you on the Radio 4 service! And thanks for yet another very moving hymn! Reminded me of the session you did for us at Offord Fellowship singing through several of your compositions!!

    I hope you are all well, and enjoying life in Cambridge! Pass on my best wishes to Sam and the children – I guess Joanna and Daniel are shooting up now! I seem to think that Joanna has another birthday coming up this next week – hope she has a good day!

    I’m retired now, and living in North Essex in the village of Great Sampford, but am keeping busy! Have joined the Sampford Singers (affiliated to the RSCM!), and helping out our local Anglican Churches now and then at the organ!! (Playing yesterday for a wedding at Radwinter Parish Church, and this evening for evensong at Great Sampford Parish Church!) I’m also looking after the Baptist Church at Thaxted (3 miles away) while they are in the process of looking for a new minister!

    Every blessing,


    1. Lovely to hear from you – it’s no surprise that you’re keeping busy, so I’m glad it sounds like you’re getting a chance to do some fun things as part of that. Thaxted is a lovely hymn tune – I’ve never ministered actually *in* a hymn tune! You’re amazing remembering J’s birthday – it’s on Saturday, and she’ll be 12 (and is only a few inches shorter than me now!)
      God bless,

  15. Greetings from Cape Town – to tell you that we love your new hymns and have used a couple so far at St Thomas, Rondebosch, thanks to your friend Lorna Lavallo-Smith, who told me about them. I am the organist. You have inspired me to look at doing my own writing, thank you!
    Happy day

    1. Wonderful! Thanks so much for getting in touch, and I’m so glad you like my hymns and have been inspired to write your own – I’d love to see the fruits of your creativity. Every blessing on you and your ministry.

  16. Dear Revd Ally I love your songs. You have such a gift. Thank you for sharing it so freely. I would like to use some of your songs in our upcoming, Prayer and Praise services in Norfolk, including “All our Blessings”. Were you aware that this song fits perfectly with the tune of Stuart Townend’s “My heart is filled with thankfulness”. As your song has 5 verses and his only 3, one needs to merge your verses 1+2, 3+4 and create a final verse by reusing your first verse and adding it to your final verse. (last verse…Lord, all our blessings, all our joys, With thankful hearts we sing, True, compassionate, loving God, Accept the praise we bring. In sacrifice and service, Your love is clearly shown, Your outstretched arms embrace us, to bring us safely home. God bless, David

    1. Hi David
      I don’t think I know that Townend song – but very happy for you to re-jig my words so they fit! You’re welcome to use any of my songs, any time – it’s lovely to know that they’re out there being useful.

  17. Thank you so much for the new selections for Mothering Sunday, which we do celebrate on Lent 4 here in the USA. For Those Who Gave Us Life and Breath is included as the closing collect for the Prayers of the People. I came across your site via Google for Mothering Sunday hymns, and have “bookmarked” your site as a great liturgical resource. Blessings! Cliff

  18. I, and many friends in the congregation, loved your hymn for the Mass to mark the end of the Science Festival in Ely Cathedral this morning! It was so joyous yet at the same time covering so many abstruse scientific concepts. Thank you very much! Wendy Ramsell

  19. These are just lovely ( full of love and purpose) Thank you so much for sharing them so generously. I would love to use some of them.

  20. Thank you so much – I would like to insert the following as a 2nd to last verse in “Come to God’s table” for this week Easter 6 yr B ” Love one another”

    Come to God’s table to stand side by side
    in love and in friendship with Christ as our guide
    to honour our Saviour and answer His call –
    ‘Do this to remember me – my life and my all.’

    I’m also using “Here and now we’re drawn together” and attributing to you on our overhead.
    So thank you again – these are just beautiful. Rev. B

  21. Hello Ally, a group of us in the Scottish Episcopal Church is organising a service and would like to use your wonderful hymn “May this place be one of nurture.” In the second stanza we would like to change the last line to “may abuse turn into right.” Can we do this?

    1. Hi Markus, thank you for getting in touch. I’m OK with this amendment, but the hymn is published by Singing the Faith (Methodist online hymnal) https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/worship/singing-the-faith-plus/ and I’m not sure if I’m allowed to authorise changes or whether this is something they would need to do – the text was reviewed and amended by their panel of survivors, so I’m a bit wary of giving permission for changes that this group hasn’t reviewed, if that makes sense. You would be more than welcome to contact them, with my blessing. Or you could just go ahead – I’m sure people amend hymns for local use all the time 🙂

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