At eight minutes past two in the morning a huge explosion ripped through one of the sections of the Gresford coal mine near Wrexham. In one of Britain’s worst coal mining disasters, 266 men were killed. only eleven bodies were ever recovered from the mine (eight miners and three of the attempted rescuers). The damaged sections of the mine were sealed with most of the bodies inside.
The rest of the mine was re-opened in 1936 and operated until 1973. The old winding wheel was preserved as a memorial after the pit closed.
Robert Saint (1905-1950), a miner from Hebburn, South Tyneside was inspired to compose a brass band tune Gresford, also known as the “Miners’ Hymn”. It was deliberately composed as a hymn tune without words. The miners who died could not sing along with the band. It is popular with many colliery brass bands and recordings can be found on YouTube. Here is a synthesised version.
In recent times some words have been written to go with the tune, based on Psalm 130 De profundis “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.”
The Gresford memorial
Attribution Bob Shires / Gresford Heath / CC BY-SA 2.0
For each hymn we have provided a set of verses together with an electronically generated sound-track. The sound track does not provide any words - just the tune.
The selection of hymns to be included was subject to certain limitations, notably the restrictions of copyright. This meant that many modern hymns were excluded, and the exclusion even applied to some updated versions of traditional hymns. Some publishers have made a few minor changes to make hymns more "inclusive" and have then claimed copyright over the revised text. So in most cases the ORIGINAL texts have been used, even though these may not be the versions that appear in modern hymnals.
In deciding what tunes to be used, this has largely been the Webmaster's personal choice. It is a mixture of familiar tunes and tunes that are not well-known, but deserve to be better known. The webmaster has included some personal favourites (and excluded some pet hates!). The soundtracks provided go with the words provided - if there are four verses, the tune is repeated four times. Where possible tunes have been provided with descants or alternative arrangements.
Wherever possible, there is an explanation of who wrote the words or tunes, the circumstances under which they were written, when (and sometimes why). Many hymns include references to verses appearing in the King James Version of the Bible; more modern translations were not then available! In some cases we have tried to explain these scriptural references or other instances where words have changed their meaning over time.
This selection of "Sing-along Songs of Praise" was originally a series of blog posts written during the COVID Lockdowns of 2020. It was intended to allow people to sing hymns in the safety and privacy of their own homes at a time when hymn-singing in church was not allowed (even if the church building was open!).
When hymns are sung as part of a church service, it is normally the case that the hymn books are set aside at the end of the hymn and the next part of the service continues. There is no time to sit and reflect on the meaning or the beauty of words and/or music. This collection allows you to take your time, to read, listen sing along, reflect, and to repeat a hymn again if you wish.
The picture of the chalice is symbolic of:
"A joyful image of a Eucharistic community which knows how to celebrate God's goodness to us but also how to reach out to the community and connect with those in need, in pain, in difficulty, who feel lost or neglected, or that they don't belong."
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