Still Vaued and Blessed (Review)

Still Valued and Blessed: Patrick Coghlan4 star

Kevin Mayhew In the growing number of books written to help those in their senior years, this will not be a standout addition, yet it does provide a useful resource for those who minister to this significant age group. Coghlan’s main purpose is to develop among seniors a mindset whereby they approach old age with a positive attitude and an expectation that God can still use them. Each chapter is short and to the point, with large-print text. There are many suggestions on how we can be used by God as we grow older: providing a listening ear and a word of encouragement, sharing our wisdom and experience setting a good example for our families, developing a ministry of prayer, and sharing our testimony. The impression given is that old age is not a time for slowing down or of losing focus because God can still use us. Coghlan seems to write for those who are still active, mentally alert and physically fit rather than for those who may be increasingly frail, in need of support and potentially housebound. This makes the book more suitable for the newly retired rather than for those who are true seniors. TH

Featured Composer of the Month

Heather HammondHH_2_picedit


Heather Hammond is a prolific and immensely popular composer whose work is published by Kevin Mayhew. She studied piano and clarinet at Leeds College of Music. Postgraduate studies followed in Education at Bretton Hall College, Wakefield and Music Technology at York University.

Heather currently lives in York where she divides her time between teaching and composing. She has a busy piano teaching practice and believes that it is important for young children to have fun in music and experience modern styles alongside the more traditional from an early age. She also teaches piano at Scarcroft Primary School in York.

Both The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and London College of Music have chosen Heather’s compositions for inclusion in their examination syllabuses.

‘Exploring Emotional Health’ Kevin Mayhew Blog

‘Exploring Emotional Health’ Kevin Mayhew BlogLayout 1


During my teenage years, I felt a void in discussions between my Christian faith and being diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. It was as if emotional health and God didn’t mix; no one seemed to want to talk about both in the same conversation.

As I got older, I knew that there must be others out there having similar thoughts like me. Surely I couldn’t be the only teenage Christian living in the void. Over the years, I would ask myself questions such as;

How can I be a Christian and be diagnosed with depression?

 If the Bible tells me not to worry, then why am I so anxious all the time?

 Does God still love me, even though I self-harm?

 It wasn’t until I became more knowledgeable in the area of mental and emotional health that I realised Christian’s aren’t exempt from experiencing poor mental health. Being a Christian is a lived experience, and that includes living with illnesses of all kinds.

Let’s pause for a moment and see the reality that we’re currently facing:

Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. (WHO, 2015)

In the UK, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 5-19% of all children and adolescents. (NHS, 2014)

The majority of people who are reported to self-harm are aged between 11 and 25. (Mental Health Foundation, 2017)

These are just three of the many mental and emotional health challenges young people face in our society today.

The great news is that research shows young people want to talk about these challenges with trusted adults; they no longer want them to be ‘taboo’ topics. Whether it’s because they’re facing these adversities themselves or because friends/family are struggling, young people want to talk and therefore we must listen.

So, as youth leaders, how do we even begin to effectively support the young people we work with in exploring their emotional health and Christian faith? Where does the conversation begin in this vast field?

Exploring Emotional Health: Six workshop outlines for youth leaders will enable you to begin these much-needed conversations. This practical resource breaks open the void in exploring these challenges with young people. The book covers six key topics and includes ready to go workshops on self-esteem, anxiety, depression, self-harm, identifying and coping with emotions.

Every chapter provides an essential understanding of each topic so you are equipped to run the creative workshops. They could be used as a series during term-time or simply as a one-off at a residential.

Ten years on since my experience, there are still young people today asking the same questions. By using Exploring Emotional Health you’ll be helping to close the void in openly discussing emotional health and Christian faith. Start the conversation now!



Mental Health Foundation (2017), Self-harm [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 February 2017]

 NHS (2014), Anxiety [online]. Available at [Accessed 27 June 2017]


Facebook: @LizEdgeYouthWorker

Twitter: @LizEdge_




Review And Author Q&A : Exploring Emotional Health by Liz Edge

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Exploring Emotional Health” is a fantastic blend of wisdom, vital information and sensitively structured workshop sessions for young people.  Youth workers, who might be wary or unsure about tackling topics like anxiety and depression are gently led through some introductory sessions about identifying and coping with emotions – myths are debunked, stereotypes are challenged and your confidence in tackling this subject will grow.

I’d go so far as to say that all youth work where there is a “teaching” aspect should be shaped like this.  A workshop style approach as adopted by Liz, helps young people explore the topics in their own way – space to reflect, space to ask questions, space to interact with the thoughts, feelings and comments of others.  A key question many  young people ask as they face the regular emotional upheavals of adolescence is, “am I normal?”  To unpack each subject in a way that makes it accessible, less scary and without putting young people on the spot is a real skill – Liz achieves that here.

What is a bonus, and sets this resource book apart from many others, is the holistic way that Liz approaches the whole subject and each section.  It is so important to be a reflective practitioner, but what is rare is to see questions for the youth workers to ask of themselves – as well as their young people.  This might be a tool for a youth group – and in fact, you could draw on different elements in numerous work contexts – but, it is also a tool for the youth worker.  In work and ministry, one of the best things we can offer young people is a “healthy us” – that doesn’t mean we are emotionally “sorted”, but it does mean we are prepared to go on a journey and explore our own emotions as well as those of our young people and become more emotionally literate ourselves.  This book is a gift to the Church, and a gift to youth work – if you want to see young people live life to the full (and “full” means our whole selves, everything we are – including our emotions) – then I encourage you to get it.

What follows is a brief Q&A with Liz which I hope gives you more insight to the book than my words above can, I’m looking forward to what Liz produces next!

Click Here

A Prayer for Westminster.



Lord God,

we pray today for our world,

haunted by the spectre of extremism.


We pray for our Intelligence services –

those in the front line of monitoring suspicious activity,

infiltrating terror cells,

tracking suspects,

thwarting plots,

often at great risk to themselves.

Wherever extremism rears its head,

may moderation and justice prevail.


We think of police,

ambulance crews,

fire services

and hospital staff –

those trained to deal with a terrorist incident,

potentially having to cope with mass casualties

in the event of an attack.

Wherever extremism rears its head,

may moderation and justice prevail.


We think of the victims of terrorism –

those who have been killed in atrocities;

those who have been maimed,

often suffering life-changing injuries;

those who have lost loved ones,

their lives never the same again;

those who have been traumatised by the sights and sounds

they’ve witnessed,

unable to get them out of their minds.

Wherever extremism rears its head,

may moderation and justice prevail.


We think of extremists themselves –

those who have lost sight of their common humanity;

who have allowed political and religious ideology

to poison their minds,

shutting out the true principles of their faith;

those who have turned what, at times,

are legitimate grievances

into wholly illegitimate and indiscriminate murder.

Help them to see that religion without love is no faith at all,

and that any movement based on hate can ultimately only

end up hateful

and hated.

Wherever extremism rears its head,

may moderation and justice prevail.


Nick Fawcett 2017

©Kevin Mayhew

Still Valued and Blessed


When do we move from middle age into old age?  Is it when our hair begins to turn grey – or we lose it? Could it be when we hit the age of being eligible to receive our pensions? Maybe it is at that time of life when we cease to carry out any kind of paid employment? Is it when our health begins to fail, or when we come to a point of realising that we can no longer do what we used to? Many people say that ‘old age’ is all about attitude of mind.

God doesn’t want us to stop living fulfilling lives – filled with joy and hope – just because we have reached a certain age. We still have spiritual needs to be met; callings to fulfil; and, through our relationship with Jesus, an eternal spiritual connection with God that no one and nothing can take away. And this is why I came to write Still Valued and Blessed. Not to try and define when old age does or does not begin, but to encourage the kind of understanding of Scripture, relationship with Jesus and mind-set that enables us to approach, enter and journey through old age with a positive attitude that will enable it to be a spiritually fruitful and fulfilling time of our lives.

Just because we are older, doesn’t mean we have to stop! Indeed, surely it is better to see this stage in all our lives as nothing more – and nothing less – than another chapter! New experiences lie ahead, new wonders, new challenges.

With God beside us, these senior years have as much promise as the ones which we have already lived. It is not about dwelling on the things we can no longer do – though don’t for a minute think just because you’re a certain age you can’t run a half marathon or learn a new skill – it is about seeking God’s continued calling, no matter what our age. And in that, realising and relishing the fact that we are, each and every one of us, Still Valued and Blessed.

Patrick Coghlan

Five Note Philharmonic – Sarah Watts



I have so much to thank music for. Not just the obvious things like appreciating its power to relax me, change my mood and to conjure up life memories etc. Those things are important and powerful of course, and one should never underestimate the power of music, but for me, it was so much more.

I could probably say that music played a huge part in carving who I am. Because I was fortunate to have been encouraged by my parents and school to play an instrument…or two. Music gave me an identity, punctuated my week with exciting experiences, introduced me to friends, shaped my teenage social life, gave me a career, and even found me a husband.

This is probably why I feel so passionately about sharing this experience with others. I have written a lot of music, and I can honestly say that the aim behind most of it has been to make playing music enjoyable, accessible and inspiring. Some of the young people who have played my music may have only played three notes, but I wanted them to really enjoy playing them, and remember the experience.

Because of the “Wider opportunities” and “First Access” schemes many Hubs, music services and schools are now able to provide class instrumental lessons. This is wonderful, but the challenge has always been “How are we going to get these young instrumentalists to keep playing?”.

Often music comes to life when you play it with other people. Research has shown that those who join bands, orchestras ensembles and groups at a young age are more likely to continue playing their instrument. With this in mind, it’s really important that we as music educators offer these opportunities in the very early stages of learning.

My “Easy band book” and “Band in a book” have been very popular as a “grass roots” ensemble resources, but I wanted to do something better. It’s very difficult to write something for a beginner ensemble that is suitable for everyone. This is mainly because the instruments are often in different keys, and most teachers just don’t have time to arrange things specially.

I have recently written a new book called “Five note Philharmonic” where despite the “key issue”, each part only uses five notes. Where possible I have made sure that these are five of the easiest notes on the instrument. It’s wonderful offering an “Ensemble experience”, but it’s important to make sure that it’s a comfortable one that will build confidence rather than deflate it.

The book has ten short pieces in varying styles, all have a piano or CD accompaniment. I have also written an extra B flat part for a slightly more advanced player so that the melody line be played with a B flat or C instrument.

One of the strongest desires I have for anything I write, is for it to be useful as a resource for teachers. It is also very important to me that my music can provide the same “musical excitement” for somebody that gave me the inspiration to write it in the first place.

Sarah Watts

Sponsored reading of Nicholas King’s translation of the Bible

We are delighted to announce that Nicholas King’s iconic translation of the Bible will be read in its entirety between November 30 and December 3.— a ‘first’ we think!

bc-1501437Everyone is welcome to drop in—here are the details:

Reader    Reverend Canon Mary Garbutt

Venue      Church of St Mary the Virgin, Maidwell, NN6 9JF which, you will be pleased to know, has a loo

Dates        Monday November 30 from 7am to 10:30pm
Tuesday December 1 from 6:30am to 10:30pm
Wednesday December 2 from 6:30am to 10:30pm
Thursday December 3 from 6:00 am to finish

This is a sponsored reading and all money raised will go towards the upkeep of the seven small rural

churches Mary has responsibility for and their link parishes in Bungoma, Western Kenya.

Contributions will be most gratefully received by Mary.


Her contact details are:

The Revd Canon Mary Garbutt
The Rectory
Harlestone Road
Church Brampton

First woman bishop presented with Bible translated by Jesuit Catholic priest


On Monday 26th January Libby Lane was consecrated as the first female bishop in the Church of England in a packed service at York Minster.

Kevin Mayhew is pleased and proud to announce that the Bible she was given at this groundbreaking ceremony was a boxed presentation edition of Nicholas King’s Study Bible.

Nicholas King’s prestigious translation has quite rightly received many plaudits since its publication and this presentation to Libby Lane confirms its leading place among the finest Bible translations available to scholars today.

Nicholas King, who has taught New Testament at Oxford University, is frequently in demand all over the world to lecture on biblical subjects. He is the first person for over 70 years to translate the Bible on his own, without the aid of a committee. His translation, first published by Kevin Mayhew in 2013, is from the Greek, complete with grammatical inaccuracies and idiomatic peculiarities. The result is a vibrant translation which is exceptionally stimulating and sometimes startling. It shakes off the dust which often settles on passages that have become tired from overfamiliarity or frequent quotation, allowing the text to come to life in new and unexpected ways.

Church leaders, scholars and readers of every denomination have greeted this unique study Bible with delight.

Modern Language

Many will remember the joy that greeted the introduction of Common
Worship in the year 2000. At last, Anglican worshippers were able fully
to participate in worship using familiar, everyday language in prayers and
responses whose meaning was clear.
Many might have wondered why it was taking so long for traditional
hymnody to become similarly inclusive and accessible. Although we have had
an explosion in new hymns and worship songs, that still leaves a wealth of wellloved
hymns in danger of falling into disuse simply because their language and
imagery are barriers. And indeed, as we have discovered in this process, even
some modern songs slip into archaism all too easily. When is the Church going
to enable congregations to be fully included, not only in the prayers we say but
in the ones we sing, too?
Well, now we can! This is the collection that addresses that need – almost
certainly the most radical revision in modern times to a major hymnal. Having
said that, we must also say that radical revision of hymns is not, in fact,
anything new in itself; many well-loved traditional hymns are in reality very
different from their ‘original’ versions. Consider, for example, ‘Hark, the
herald-angels sing’, which began life as ‘Hark, how all the welkin rings’, and a
simple look at the list of authors to which that carol is attributed indicates
a long development process before it became what most people now regard as
the ‘original’.

Valuing our tradition
This, though, is not about a rejection of tradition. Our treasury, as Jesus said,
should contain things old and new; and just as, for example, the Book of
Common Prayer and the King James Bible continue to be loved and valued
alongside Common Worship, so no doubt will the more familiar versions of
hymns also remain in the treasury.
What we have done here is to offer alternatives to traditional wordings to
make them accessible to more people. Hymns, of course, unlike paintings and
symphonies, for example, are not primarily works of art but means to enable
participation in worship, and it is that objective that takes precedence in this
book. Many of these hymns, we suspect, would have faded completely from use
over the next few decades or less and that would have been a huge loss, not only
to hymnody but to spirituality. We hope that our changes might enable at least
some of the ‘old’ to remain in our treasury alongside the completely new, of
which there are also a good number here.

From the days of the first vernacular translations of the Bible, there has been
recognition that the gospel of Christ should, as far as possible, be equally
accessible to all. So it should not be necessary to have a classical education and
be steeped in poetic traditions in order to grasp the essential meaning of a hymn
as the music pushes us onward from one thought to the next, denying us the
time we might take to reflect on a Bible reading or poem. Many people,
however well-educated, do not have a ‘feel’ for poetic language, and if the
Church is to be true to its founder, then those whose communication skills are
different should not be excluded from singing and understanding hymns.
Having said that, however, neither do we want unnecessarily to impoverish
our worship with triviality of thought or expression, and it would be sad to lose
the grandeur of language with which hymnody has undoubtedly enriched our
worship for centuries. Many hymns richly repay, and indeed stimulate, deeper
reflection on our faith, which is surely something we should all be encouraged
to do.
It is also true, of course, that our faith is a celebration of Mystery – a
celebration that by definition we can enter into without fully understanding. To
try to make Mystery fully accessible is worse than futile, as the attempt to do so
(and the illusion that we have succeeded) can only diminish our concept of
the Divine. Awe and wonder also are essential elements of worship – in the
words of Robert Browning, ‘[Our] reach should exceed [our] grasp, or what’s a
heaven for?’
Holding these disparate values together has been one of the creative challenges
of our task as editors, reminding us of another great faith-concept: paradox!

Archaic language
There is more to this than simply changing ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ to ‘you’, which itself
often results in unnatural-sounding phrases. Many other words still used in
hymnody are unfamiliar today. People steeped by life-long experience in
Christian worship may well know what ‘vouchsafe’ means, but the person
venturing into church for the first time, and already feeling like a stranger in a
strange land, might find it a serious barrier.
Many words, of course, simply don’t mean what they did when the texts were
first written. Perhaps the most well-known example for older people would be
‘at thy cradle rude and bare’ from ‘God rest ye merry, gentlemen’. More seriously,
the use of ‘fear’ to mean ‘respect’ is simply asking to be misunderstood, as are
references to the Holy Ghost. And just what are modern people to understand
by, ‘Here I raise my Ebenezer’?
Inevitably, in hymnody, many of these words occur as part of the rhyme
scheme and so demand more extensive change to the text than simply their own
replacement. Because of our commitment to the clarity and inclusivity of the
language we have generally not shrunk from doing this but hope we have done
it carefully, skilfully and, most of all, respectfully.

Demeaning language
The evolution of language – a process now highlighted and greatly accelerated
by phenomena such as texting and the internet – affects more than just clarity.
Some words in common use only half a century ago are now considered deeply
offensive. So, while it was clearly acceptable in a different cultural and
theological milieu, there are serious questions about asking people to describe
themselves as ‘wretch’, ‘vile’, ‘worthless’, and so on, in a modern context.
For all our flaws, we are human beings made by God in God’s image. Yes, the
image is disfigured – horribly so in some cases – and, yes we have done, and still
do, some pretty horrible things – but there is now abundant and compelling
evidence that constantly emphasising our dark side (and often asking people to
describe themselves as much worse than they are) is not the way to help any of
us to change.
Many terms for illness, disability and disadvantage have become either
pejorative or patronising, and it’s important that people who would feel the
impact of that should not be excluded from acts of worship by the words we ask
them to sing. So words like ‘lame’, ‘dumb’ etc. have also been changed, with
very few exceptions.

This is a difficult one since one person’s heresy is another’s free thinking, but we
felt it right, without imposing our own personal beliefs more than is inevitable,
to reconsider the wordings of some hymns. A good example is the well-loved
‘Away in a manger’ with its completely unfounded statement that the infant
Jesus did not cry. Apart from the heresy of Docetism which denies the true
humanity of Jesus, this also, by implication, links his infant silence to his
perfection – setting a standard of supposed ‘goodness’ convenient to adults but
unattainable and unreasonable for children.

We recognise, of course, that Scripture is full of references to spiritual warfare,
but surely none of us can be unaware that, not only but certainly in
Christianity, such language has proved itself dangerously open to misuse in the
justification of horrific conflicts and the endorsement of brutal imperial
domination. Closely related to militarism is triumphalism. Of course there is
triumph in Christianity, but it is the triumph of the cross – a radically different
concept from putting enemies under our feet (an image sadly used in hymnody)
which has no place in Christian thinking. For the God of Jesus Christ, victory
over enemies consists in reconciling them as friends!

Losses and gains
We have been immensely grateful for the willing co-operation of many authors
and copyright holders who have agreed to our requests for changes, and we fully
respect the right exercised by some to decline permission. Sadly, this has resulted
in the loss of a very few popular texts from this collection, including those
modern classics ‘How great thou art’ and ‘In Christ alone’. However, we have
also been delighted to include a large number of completely new texts, some by
exciting new writers, along with many children’s and all-age worship songs
making their first appearances in a general hymnal.

Keys and musical settings
‘We can’t sing up there’, is a comment made after far too many church services.
And it’s true; research shows that for various reasons the human singing voice
has dropped over the last century. And we only have to listen to congregations
to know that many people have real difficulty with hymn singing. Carols
especially – think of ‘Christians, awake!’, ‘Hark, the herald-angels sing’, ‘Once
in royal David’s city’ and ‘Silent night’ – don’t just have very high notes but the
tunes hang around up there, which is even worse.
Usually, the problem is easy to solve: tunes can be pitched in much more
friendly keys and, as a rule, when this is done the congregation sings with
enthusiasm and comfort. In those tunes which have a long stretch (like ‘Danny
Boy’) we decided that it would be better to growl a little at the bottom rather
than risk damage to the vocal cords at the top.

The art of the possible
Of course, one cannot be absolute about anything – including that statement.
In balancing the many, and often conflicting, ideals of this hymnal, there
inevitably have been times when we simply had to do the imperfect best we
could. In musical terms, this applied to the choice of keys as we were faced with
deservedly well-loved tunes whose wide vocal range meant that they were either
going to be too high or too low and we had to find the best compromise.
In the texts, possibly more frequently, similar issues arose. An example is
G. K. Chesterton’s masterpiece of political critique, ‘O God of earth and altar’,
an arrestingly powerful and (sadly) highly relevant poem to read but sometimes
difficult to grasp the meaning while singing, as the tune pushes us on and denies
us time to reflect. In this and similar cases, we have tried to balance clarity of
expression with a need for a little thoughtful reflection on the part of the reader
and hope that worship leaders will feel able to introduce the hymn with a few
explanatory words.
On the basis of our criteria, some hymns were quickly excluded – ‘Fight the
good fight’, for example, relies on militaristic imagery throughout. Others are
clearly of great merit but had perhaps a verse that did not meet our criteria. This
presented a dilemma which is felt by some worship leaders who would love to
use a particular hymn but find themselves prevented by what is actually quite a
small but significant part of the text. In those cases, rather than exclude the
whole hymn, it seemed not inappropriate to make changes to the text. In doing
this, we again bore in mind that we are not ‘defacing the original’ but rather
offering an alternative to allow most of the text to remain in wider use
for longer.
Inevitably, of course, there comes a song whose very archaism is an essential
part of its charm, and an example of such is that much-adored carol, ‘Ding
dong, merrily on high!’ with its ‘swungen’, ‘sungen’ and joyful if nonsensical ‘ioio-
io’! Sometimes it’s good to go beyond words and simply make a joyful noise
to God!
Saint Irenaeus said, ‘The glory of God is humanity fully alive, and to be alive
consists in beholding God.’ Part of being fully alive is surely about being fully
included, valued and involved in worship. That being so, it is particularly
appropriate to dedicate this new hymnal, in Irenaeus’ terms:

To ‘the glory of God’.

Michael Forster
Kevin Mayhew