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Hallo again to all.

It's the beginning of the long season of green Sundays after . . . Pentecost or Trinity, depending on the province of the Anglican Communion in which you happen to find yourself.

It would be perfectly appropriate to write about something connected to the season of Pentecost-Trinity (the season of Pentity as shorthand?) but we confess tonight to feeling uninspired by the theme.

Today also happens to be the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, although the blessed saint is trumped, of course, by Sunday itself. And when it is the nativity of Saint John Baptist, it is midsummer and of course it is the solstice, the turning of a season. But we find ourselves not energised by writing about John the Baptist (a considerable failing on our part) or the solstice.

We think it is time for hymns.

It was nearly ten years ago that we asked a far smaller and far less international group of AO readers to choose the one hymn that they would take to a desert island. Just imagine: If you could only hear one hymn for the rest of your life, what would your choice be? Think carefully, for although 'God Moves in a Mysterious Way' may allure, will it hold up after 200 hearings? That's a tough filter, and only the hardiest and most wonderful of hymns will pass through it.

In 2003, we compiled the list of Top Twenty Desert-Island Hymns based on what you told us. It's time to check again — and see if St Patrick's' Breastplate will still command the number one spot. And what about 'Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee', a great favourite with a some provinces in the Anglican Communion, but more or less unknown to the rest (apart from the tune being the final movement of Beethoven's great Ninth Symphony).

We were surprised by Lesbia Scott's making it into 2003's top twenty — yes, we know, tea, lanes, trains, shepherdesses, and all things quaintly Anglican — but it is a children's hymn. And the tune is, well, not brilliant. Will Mrs Scott triumph once again?

So help us compile the 2012 Top Twenty Desert Island Hymns of the Anglican Communion (we'll appropriate the name here, with no ill intent). Send an email with the hymn title and tune, if you have a favourite musical setting.

Don't know the tune name? That's fine. Just send in the title or the first line, which is usually the same thing. No complicated forms to fill out; just pop off an email to us by clicking here.

Or write on our Facebook wall. Whatever is easiest for you.

Please email your can't-live-on-the-island-without-it hymn by 2300 GMT on Saturday, 30 June.

And wait! If you think this whole hymn business is too frivolous, we cite two examples of just how significant hymns have been in great moments of history.

The hymn book used as a pipe lighter that changed a life
'Angas's maritime career was dramatic from the first. On the ship on which he was bound apprentice, after several narrow escapes he was captured by a French privateer off the Naze of Norway, and incarcerated in France for twenty months. There, after an unsuccessful attempt to escape, he purchased the remnants of a pocket edition of Dr. Watts' Hymns, which a French hussar on guard duty had been using to light his pipe. This became the means of reviving the flagging commitment to his faith that Angas had first made as a schoolboy'. (William Henry Angas, 1781-1832)

Hymns that confounded a Roman priest and blackened the reputation of the English
'A Roman Catholic priest and visitor to England viewed a public execution at Tyburn and ignorant of English psalmody, he took the hymns as catches or glees and thus misinterpreted the attitude of the onlookers'. (Horatio [Orazio] Busin, fl. 1617–1621).

Of course, in addition to learning of your favourite hymn, we welcome stories of life-changing hymn interventions. We rather suspect they'll be few on the ground.

See you next week. And keep singing, in school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

24 June 2012

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