30 Hymns: Christopher Idle with Lance & Sue Pierson

Are you looking for more hymns to enrich your singing? These lyrics from the pen of Christopher Idle, featuring a variety of Biblical themes, are well worth considering. Chris got together with the late Lance Pierson – actor / poetry performer – and his wife Sue to produce a podcast featuring 30 of his many different hymn lyrics. In each episode he sets the scene for one of them and then Lance and Sue read it aloud. To close there is a clip of suggested music – the resources for this and more being available from the lyric page.

Chris’s introductions throw light on the circumstances, purposes etc of the hymns in this selection, while Lance and Sue’s approach to the spoken text brings out in fresh ways their meaning, relevance and beauty. Have a listen!

Sadly Lance never recovered from aggressive cancer, diagnosed soon after these recordings were provisionally completed in June 2021. His powerful reading of the final lyric mirrors his faith in a wonderful God. We hold his family in our prayers.

The selection includes two hymn texts with Praise Trust copyright administration (https://www.praise.org.uk), which Jubilate reproduces by kind permission.

To see a summary list of all musical resources linked to themes please see here.

Logo for 30 Hymns: Christopher Idle with Lance & Sue Pierson
1 We have not walked these paths before
New Beginnings, Advent, Christmas 1: In this episode Chris answers Lance's questions about a hymn that sees us set out on a new venture, Christ being our companion and guide. It will suit many landmarks and enterprises, big and small.
2 Christ is surely coming, bringing his reward
New Beginnings, Advent, Christmas 2: The Advent season is the start of the church year. In this hymn we look forward with confidence to the return of Christ'.
3 Eternity once entered time
New Beginnings, Advent, Christmas 3: The hymn featured here centres on Christmas, the beginning of the Christian era as Christ enters the world. Some aspects that are often overlooked challenge us and prompt our worship.
4 Jesus, come! for we invite you
Jesus' Life and Teaching 1: In this hymn Chris explains to Lance what inspired him to put us, the singers, directly inside the story of Christ's first miracle. He provides some tips on how to introduce the new lyric – even in a wedding service.
5 Our Teacher and Master, Redeemer and Lord
Jesus' Life and Teaching 2: In this episode Chris focuses on what Jesus actually teaches - an aspect neglected in many hymns today. He shows how the sayings of Christ are still relevant, and points to the places, occasions and ways they originated. This text is supplied by Praise Trust, which administers the copyright.
6 Lord, you chose your first disciples
Jesus' Life and Teaching 3: In this hymn we remember that Jesus called and commissioned his first disciples while he was with them, and how he still sends us out as his followers today. Chris describes the 'memorable birth' of this hymn text.
7 My Lord, you wore no royal crown
Jesus' Life and Teaching 4: Here we discover how Jesus was the leader who "ticked no boxes". Chris reads a book about leaders, encapsulating its message and his own response in five short, reflective and devotional verses.
8 He stood before the court
Holy Week, Easter and Ascension 1: In this hymn, as we see and hear Christ standing trial on the long night before his crucifixion, we are drawn into deeper appreciation of his condemnation in our place. Our songs do not often linger at this point on Jesus’ journey to the cross for us.
9 When you prayed beneath the trees
Holy Week, Easter and Ascension 2: Here Jesus' journey from Gethsemane to his final victory as he died on the cross is brought before us, with the refrain that makes clear it was for our sake. Two very appropriate tunes enhance the powerful words.
10 Exult, creation round God's throne
Holy Week, Easter and Ascension 3: An ancient Latin hymn is revived here at the request of a friend. Joyfully presented and skilfully crafted, it becomes a triumphant hymn of Easter praise in the English language.
11 Since our great high priest, Christ Jesus
Holy Week, Easter and Ascension 4: The Easter season concludes with Jesus newly ascended, now our High Priest in heaven. Chris describes how he came to write and eventually complete his hymn.
12 Spirit of holiness, wisdom and faithfulness
The Holy Spirit 1: This episode features the first of two lyrics calling on the Holy Spirit, and brings out in its final verse an often neglected but important point. It is set to a folk-melody appropriate to this Pentecost hymn.
13 Holy Spirit, heaven's breath
The Holy Spirit 2: This hymn of prayer to the Holy Spirit highlights many of his different activities. Although first written for a specific occasion, it is relevant everywhere at Pentecost as well as other times.
14 Search our hearts, we pray, Lord
The Gathered Church 1: A hymn of confession for the everyday wrongs we can too easily brush over, this hymn is suitable for Lent as for other times when we together reflect upon our need for forgiveness.
15 Before they leave the upper room
The Gathered Church 2: This episode features a lyric for the church when gathered for Holy Communion. Written in response to a particular request, it recalls the original last supper before Jesus' crucifixion.
16 In psalms and hymns of joyful praise
The Gathered Church 3: First written for a special occasion, this lyric provides the gathered church with a hymn that looks back in praise to past blessings and forward to a great future in store. It is full of thanksgiving, rejoicing and expectation, with a tune to match.
17 As the light upon the river
The Church Serving in the World 1: Here is a hymn which marks a special anniversary where the church looks forward to serving the surrounding community in the coming years.
18 Lord, how we treasure helpers and carers
The Church Serving in the World 2: A group who serve faithfully and sacrificially in the world is honoured here and it draws our thankfulness and prayers to God. The text is supplied by its administrator, Praise Trust.
19 Christ, grant me grace to let you wash my feet
The Church Serving in the World 3: In this prayerful, reflective hymn, everyone who has received the care and forgiveness of Christ can respond in service. The theme is developed to show the different ways this may come about.
20 The works of the Lord are created in wisdom
Creator and Creation 1: In the first episode featuring God's creation, Lance finds out what has inspired this hymn which is full of detail and praise, imaginatively constructed. It is relevant to all occasions.
21 Creator God, with whom we share
Creator and Creation 2: In this episode the focus of the hymn is the animal world – made and blessed by God, together with our responsibilities towards it. Chris comments that this theme seems seldom to be covered in our songs.
22 Powerful in making us wise to salvation
The Bible 1: The theme here is the truth of the Bible, which Chris notes is rarely treated in hymns. He marshals an array of illustrations to drive home his points which are impressively combined to produce a lyric to accompany any preaching or reference to this topic.
23 I long to sing with Abraham
The Bible 2: The hymn in this episode focuses on numerous named Bible characters, and still more who are not specified, all woven into a tapestry of praise which awaits its fulfilment in heaven. The lyric is especially appropriate to sing when any of these faithful people are featured in a service.
24 Mary of the incarnation
The Bible 3: This episode features one Bible character – Mary the mother of Jesus. Each verse highlights one of her special qualities – often overlooked – and each includes a practical response.
25 This earth belongs to God
Psalms 1: The first of 3 episodes based on Psalms, this one has the distinction of being set to a well-known, ceremonial tune which lends itself to lively participation in a question-and-answer exchange. Lance finds out more about its origins.
26 When the Lord restored his people
Psalms 2: The rhythm of an old American song underlies another psalm-based hymn, catching its tenor of celebration, supplication and praise – a nation's prayer for deliverance and harvest blessing. Here it gives rise to a new melody.
27 Lord, hear my prayer! My cry shall come before you
Psalms 3: The psalm featured in this episode is the cry of a tormented believer whose entreaties yet reveal confidence in God's loving purposes and power prevailing at last. We can echo these words as we hold in our prayers those who are being persecuted.
28 I will sing the Lord's high triumph
Canticles and Other Paraphrases 1: The song of Moses and Miriam, first sung in response to God's victory in the crossing of the Red Sea, has inspired a rousing hymn of praise which broadens the theme to include the triumph of Christ over the slavery of sin which that event foreshadows. This is a welcome addition to our Easter celebrations.
29 God we praise you! God we bless you!
Canticles and Other Paraphrases 2: In this episode one of the church's most well-loved and God-glorifying ancient canticles has been re-crafted and set deservedly to some of our most distinguished tunes. A regular fixture in the past in its traditional form, this hymn has been taken up with enthusiasm in many parts of the world.
30 Then I saw a new heaven and earth
Canticles and Other Paraphrases 3: In the final episode we find one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible faithfully and arrestingly reproduced, drawing us into the vision of heaven as revealed in the closing pages of the Bible. A very appropriate, specially written tune carries the fine lyrics which arouse our wonder and worship.