From the archives: The Cowshed Revolution By Ray Simpson (2011)

Cowshed Revolution by Ray Simpson

At a glance, you may think it’s a book that’s going to summon you to renounce capitalism, rid yourself of all possessions and go and live in the desert and/or offer your life exclusively to the service of others. And yes, whilst Ray Simpson does highlight individuals who did just that, this book isn’t a call to ultimate self-sacrifice and self-denial but a book that will make you realise how important it is to live life in accordance with your most true and authentic self.

What struck me most was the author’s light touch (no guilt- inducing sermons or lofty academicism here). His is a vision grounded in enlightened common sense with the concept of ‘downward mobility’ simply encompassing what is good, true and ‘right’: spirit and heart over ego, community over self-interest– personal progression that’s inclusive of social awareness and responsibility.

He includes examples of good politics from both the left and right (though it’s ultimately apolitical- recognising ‘goodness’ and enlightenment wherever it springs from), as well as mentioning inspiring economists, prophets, visionaries and modern day heroes– you’ll have a brilliant and inspiring reading list to be getting on with after you’ve devoured this!

It’s the kind of book you finish and think ‘everyone should be made to read this’, especially those in positions of authority/leadership. This is for people of all faiths and none–  a book that’s vital to our times.

Available from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from KM online or by telephone: ( +44 (0)845 3881634

Posted by Sarah

An interview with Colin Mawby

This week we are honoured to present an interview with Colin Mawby. He has worked with the London Mozart Players, the Wren Orchestra, Pro Cantione Antiqua, the Belgian Radio Choir and the BBC Singers and was also Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, London (not to mention the most famous person that’s ever worked at KM!)

Colin Mawby

Can you tell me a bit about your childhood- do you come from a musical family?

I was brought up during World War 2 and have vivid memories of the bombing of Portsmouth where I lived.  My mother died when I was three and I was sent to Westminster Cathedral Choir School. George Malcolm was the choirmaster and he was a total inspiration to me. I learned most of what I know about music from the Choir School. My father was a convert – he was caught outside Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral in a rain storm and the only place he could shelter was inside. He went in and found himself in the middle of a Pontifical High Mass. He had never seen anything like it and went to the sacristy at its conclusion to ask what was going on.  This experience led to his conversion. My father remarried and Dad then decided to send me to the Choir School. He couldn’t afford the fees and the Parish Priest, a musician, offered to pay them. An extraordinary sequence of events.

Westminster Cathedral Choir School
Westminster Cathedral Choir School

Did you always want to play the organ and can you remember the first time you played?

I never had any ambition to play the organ – quite the contrary – I never wanted to be in the cathedral choir and tried my hardest to fail my voice test!  I explained that I didn’t know any songs and William Hyde, the then choirmaster, said that I must surely know the National Anthem. I fell into the trap and to my horror was accepted. I always get a good laugh about Cardinal Heenan who also took a voice test for the Choir School and was turned down. This would have been the highlight of Sir Richard Terry’s life – if only he had known!

George Malcolm obviously spotted a musical gift in me and asked me to play for Friday Compline in the Cathedral. I was able to accompany  the chant from the chant book and also improvise. This all seemed to me to be perfectly normal, something that all eleven year old boys did, it is only recently that I realise it is quite amazing. I then played for many Cathedral services as a boy.

You’ve performed for some extraordinary people including the Queen and John F Kennedy- would it be fair to say this carried a degree of anxiety?

I have conducted for extraordinary people but have never found it particularly nerve wracking.  Music totally takes one over and one forgets that there are eminent people in the audience.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career?

The highlight of my career was in Ireland. I founded the National Irish Chamber Choir and we developed a large educational programme. Part of it were two children’s operas which I composed and which were performed by schools. (Funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and the  Department of Education).They were totally professional performances– the children acted and sang the solos under professional direction. The choir acted as a ‘Greek Chorus’. Every year we performed with two disadvantaged schools and I remember a solo part being sung by a young girl with only 6 months to live and another occasion when a solo was taken by a girl who was paralysed as a result of a motor accident. (Drunken driving). She had also lost the power of speech but wanted to try and do the opera. She succeeded and it was deeply moving that my music had enabled her to speak and sing again. These were the two most memorable experiences of my life.

 ‘Tu Es Petrus’ was used for the papal inauguration, how did this make you feel?

I was delighted that my ‘Tu es Petrus’ was sung at the papal inauguration. The Director of the Sistine Choir asked me to write a ‘Tu es Petrus’ and the Sistine Choir has sung it on many occasions. I am amazed by all this! It’s a thrill to hear the Sistine Choir singing my work.

Papal Inauguration

You are quoted as saying that you can’t write choral music unless you work with choirs; that you have to write for particular people. Is it fair to say that your compositions have always been quite instinctive?

My composition is instinctive and I take no notice of musical fashion which I feel militates against the sense of the spiritual – it’s not sincere.   I try and write music that speaks to people’s souls, music that listeners can respond to emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t!

Whom do you admire?

The three people who have had a profound effect on my life, apart from my father, are George Malcolm, Wilfred Purney (a superb priest) and Cardinal John Carmel Heenan.

Cardinal John Carmel Heenan

What advice would you give a young organist who wanted to become a professional musician?

It’s very difficult to become a professional musician so the first step is to earn sufficient money from music to live on. Teaching, privately and in schools, is the way to do this. Also, try and become a church choirmaster and ask for proper wedding fees and a reasonable stipend.  When you are able to support yourself, then begin to develop the recital career.  Meet as many fellow musicians as you can and develop a really good social manner. Never be afraid to ask people to help you and always remember that one has to pay the electricity bill!

How did you come to work for Kevin Mayhew and can you tell me a bit about your time there?

When I returned to England in 2003 I needed a job to tide me over a difficult time in my life and Kevin offered me one.  I have always thought that he is a publishing genius. It was highly interesting to watch him at work.

Latin Motets - Book One

What sort of music do you listen to for pleasure, and are you fond of any recording artists?

I like listening to Bach, Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, basically I get enormous pleasure out of listening to most music.  I can’t single out recording artists – the standards are incredibly high.

Which of your works would you most like to be remembered for?

It’s difficult to single out a particular piece of music because I have written so much. I would like to be remembered as someone who has made a great contribution to sacred music. If my work moves people that’s wonderful – it’s a great privilege to compose and I thank God for the great success that I have had.

With special thanks to Colin for taking part in this interview

At a glance: Three recent KM publications

Word Alive! All-age dramas to bring the Gospels to life ~ Claire Benton-Evans (Pub. Feb 2013)

Word Alive by Claire Benton-Evans

Quote “Reading scripture dramatically like this can be wonderfully revealing…exchanges like these can bring to life the noisy, argumentative crowd surrounding Jesus and his disciples…The key ingredient in all these dramas is freshness.

Overview Reading through I’m enthused!…Claire is good at setting the scene for each drama e.g. for ‘Walking on Water’ she compares the calm of the Lake District to the ‘wicked wind’ in the Jordan valley whipping up a storm on Lake Galilee ‘before you can say man overboard’. Props are kept simple but are effective and the book lacks none of the creativity and freshness that we’ve always loved about a Benton-Evans publication!

A selection of other titles published by KM Feasts and festivals (Aug 2012) Food for Prayer (Dec 2008). She’s also written chapters on Celebrity-obsessed culture, Family breakdown, Sexism, The NHS and Women in the church for Sermons on Difficult Subjects (Aug 2011).

About Claire Claire writes exclusively for Kevin Mayhew. Her consultancy work includes all-age worship workshops and children’s spirituality training for clergy, worship leaders, head teachers and school governors.

Forthcoming events:

25 April 2013 Marham Church C of E Primary School in Cornwall, helping the school to design their own  ‘spiritual space’ for the children to use.

11 May 2013  Edinburgh, leading a ‘Taste and See’ day on children’s spirituality and all-age worship for the Church of Scotland.

All mentioned books available from KM Publishing and all good Christian book shops. A free sample of Word Alive! is available on our website:

Rejoice with Me~ Hope for lost sheep~ Annie Heppenstall (pub. 5 March 2013)

Rejoice With Me by Annie Heppenstall

Quote “Whether our path is rocky or smooth, the way we respond depends a lot on whether we feel loved or not.

Overview Annie Shares her personal ups and downs to explore what it is to feel like a ‘lost sheep’. This is an uplifting read covering a lot of ground. It includes lots of imaginative references (Leo Tolstoy’s story about a Russian shoemaker) and great imagery (Annie’s two tatty bookmarks- one of which is a yellowing photocopied sheep!). Great if you’re feeling ‘spiritually sick’ or just want an inspiring pick-me-up.

About Annie Annie is a qualified teacher and has a degree in Theology and Religious Studies from Cambridge University. She has spent the last four years practising a contemplative lifestyle, giving time to her family, to her writing and other creative expressions of spirituality as well as training in spiritual direction and counselling skills.

Other titles published by KM Hiding in God  (April 2012)

Both books available from KM Publishing and all good Christian book shops. A free sample of Rejoice with Me is available on our website ()

The Lindisfarne Gospels~ The English Church and Our Multicultural World (Reflections and Liturgical Resources~ Ray Simpson (Pub. Feb 2013)

Lindisfarne Gospels by Ray Simpson

Quote “I write, not as an expert, but a hungry pilgrim who picks up crumbs left by the experts, finds them life-giving, and shares them with other hungry spiritual seekers.

Overview Very current/ topical, this slim but packed volume (you’ll have to keep up!) takes you through the history of the Gospels- unravelling the various strands in a colourful and impassioned tone.No expertise on the subject is required (so it’s suitable reading for the layman!) though the resources and liturgies section (which is quite big) lends itself more to those in Celtic ministry.

About Ray

Ray Simpson is the founding guardian of the international Community of Aidan and Hilda and the principal tutor of its Celtic Christian Studies programme. He sends a daily prayer tweet @whitehouseviews and writes a weekly blog

A selection of other titles published by KM Reflective Services for Lent (Oct 2012) Exploring Celtic Spirituality (Feb 2004). He also has
two chapters on Abstinence and Fraud in More Sermons on difficult subjects (Dec 2012).

All mentioned books available from KM Publishing and all good Christian book shops. A free sample of The Lindisfarne Gospels is available from our website and The Lindisfarne Gospels Facebook Page

An interview with Andy Robb a.k.a Derek the Cleric!

Andy Robb aka Derek the Cleric

With over 40 books under his belt, a Children’s Book of the Year Award 2010, not to mention a thriving Twitter and Facebook fan base for ‘Derek the cleric’, a KM interview with the very funny and talented Andy Robb was surely long over due!

Did you have an artistic/Christian upbring?

I was brought up in a Christian household but didn’t give my life to Jesus until I was married. Deep down I’d been searching for a God who I could encounter, and my experience of being baptised in the Holy Spirit, subsequent to my conversion, gave me a living reality of God and spoiled me for anything less.

My parents were amateur artists and drawing was something that absorbed my childhood. In my teens I set my heart on making it my career.

Do you remember your first efforts at writing?

I come from a family that loves books, in fact we had a family bookshop for a number of years. My brothers and I always seemed to be writing something or other be it school magazines, stories or our own comics.

Was there ever a desire to work in ministry?

Not initially. Before I became a Christian I had two rather shallow ambitions: fame and fortune. I’d had some success as a cartoonist and illustrator working in publishing and advertising including being involved in the initial design of the Kellogg’s Honey Nut Loop bee and being licensed to draw Hagar the Horrible for a national advertising campaign.

Only after I became a Christian did God give me a passion for communicating the things of God and bringing alive the Bible to children.

Did you study art/illustration formally are you self-taught?

I trained at Colchester School of Art which gave me a solid grounding but have invested time over many years developing my own artistic style.

Tell me a bit about your creative process – where do you do most of your creative work and which medium/media do you prefer to work in?

I now work from home but don’t have a problem with self-motivation. Yes, it’s great to have creative inspiration but it’s also possible to operate in the creativity you innately have to fulfil a brief.

I begin the artwork process by producing rough sketches which I then trace over in Indian ink. I scan this into my Mac and then colour it up in Photoshop.

Derek the Cleric - Range of cards by Andy Robb

How was the idea for Derek the cleric conceived and can you tell me a bit about his journey so far?

Derek the Cleric began life as a single frame cartoon on the back of the now defunct Christian Herald newspaper. Three years ago I decided to resurrect Derek by bringing alive his world (and that of his church, St Cliff’s) in a regular blog.

As Derek’s audience grew, I added Facebook, Twitter and a website to this.

Derek’s very own book ‘A Year at St Cliffs’ was published last year and there is now a range of greetings cards and other merchandise bearing his name.

Derek the Cleric - BishopDerek the Cleric - PopeDerek the Cleric - Bishop

To what extent is your writing inspired by your own experiences of church?

Although I’m not an Anglican my experiences of church have given me much fodder for Derek the Cleric.

As for my kids books, the content very much springs from my relationship with God and my personal understanding of the Bible.

“Christianity doesn’t have to be boring” – do you consider yourself to be the leading light of this message? And are there any other writers whom you feel are doing a good job?

I’ll let another be the judge of that but having experienced something of God’s love and power in my life and having come to put my faith wholeheartedly in his word I remain passionate about helping others to know this also.

Christian writers I come back to time and again include Derek Prince, John Bevere, Colin Urquhart, Bill Johnson and Andrew Wommack.

Are there any  particular illustrators/writers that have influenced your own work?

I’ve read so widely over the years that I probably wouldn’t be able to single out any authors but cartoonists who I’ve admired include the illustrator of the Asterix books, Albert Uderzo and a guy called Robert Nixon who drew many of my favourite childhood comic characters.

You are the author of over 40 books including  Derek the Cleric – a year at St Cliffs, the Professor Bumblebrain series as well as the award-winning 50 Weirdest Bible Stories (CWR). Are there any more books in the pipeline?

50 Wackiest and 50 Juiciest Bible Stories are in production right now but after that, I’m not quite sure. I do have a heart for a kids product range which mobilises children to be agents of God so I’m praying for a publisher who has this on their heart as well.

Derek the Cleric

What was the motivation behind the Boring Bible Series?
I’d seen the Horrible Histories books and thought a book range that brought the Bible alive to kids in the same way would be great.  It’s really pleasing to know that the twelve book series is still in print years later.

Derek the Cleric - Boring Bible

Would you consider applying your humour to something other than the Bible and church life and perhaps writing away from the Christian book genre?

I have thought about it and am not closed to the possibility. I have a secret ambition to write a radio comedy. We’ll see!

Andy’s Boring Bible books are available from the Kevin Mayhew website and all good christian bookshops.  A mixed-pack of 8 Derek the Cleric greetings cards is now available for both retail customers and trade customers. Look out for a gift range of Derek the Cleric products coming soon from Kevin Mayhew.

Posted by Sarah

Poring over Pastoral Care

Pastoral Care by Bill Merrington

Well-considered and honestly written, Pastoral Care is packed full of engaging anecdotes, useful bits of advice and wise perspective. Peppered with quotations from the likes of Eckhart Tolle, Julian of Norwich and even The Wizard of Oz, this book will most certainly speak to more than just those working in ministry.

Merrington explores pastoral care as broad ranging and ongoing; from the kind of everyday care that starts with conversations over a cup of coffee right up to dealing with issues such as eating disorders and drink and drug problems, pastoral care is not (unlike therapy) reliant on affordability and may be required before, during or after other counselling has been explored. Throughout the book, Merrington refers to knowing ones own capabilities and boundaries as a carer – knowing what level you are able to work at and when to refer to other counselling bodies, how to recognise when you’re heading for burnout (a discussion on ‘Jesus Syndrome’), as well as recognising inappropriate uses of power and authority.

Prayer is arguably one of the key things that distinguishes pastoral care from other types of counselling and Merrington provides some interesting perspectives on how prayer should be utilised. It should not be a substitute for applying practical support, knowledge and skills, but a gift that offers a new and important dimension to care – noting how taking time to reflect on something bigger (God) can refresh, strengthen and allow for new perspectives and new insights. As Merrington points out ‘Prayer is far more than getting God to do a miracle.’

While this book is ultimately aimed at those involved in Church life, those involved general counselling/caring as well as community and youth groups, would benefit from the fresh perspective and accessible, non-preachy tone that Pastoral Care has to offer. Those struggling with issues of anxiety, self-esteem, forgiveness, as well as disenfranchised grief (where loss can not be openly acknowledged or publically mourned) or even ‘singleness’- of being single within a (church) community would find this a useful alternative to the many books on offer within the self-help genre– many of which may not live up to their dazzling titles and may lack the honesty and wisdom of a book such as this.

Whether you dip into relevant chapters or read this from cover to cover, this is a priceless companion that deserves frequent referral.

Bill Merrington has been an Anglican Priest for over 29 years and is currently the Lead Chaplain at Bournemouth University.

Pastoral Care was published at the end of 2012 and is available to purchase from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from the KM website:

Posted by Sarah

It’s a family affair!

Critical friend by John CoxMore Sermons on Difficult SubjectsA Day Away by Paul Cox

Identical twins John and Paul Cox have more in common than it would initially seem. The retired duo, both of whom worked in parish ministry, have had titles published by Kevin Mayhew on the exact same day- a first ever (we think!)

Twins - John Cox and Paul Cox

John’s Critical Friend, which provides information and guidance to help school governors fulfil their important, demanding and worthwhile role and A Day Away, in which Paul Cox contributes his valuable experience in planning parish away days and study groups, were published on the same day last month.

While John has been writing for Kevin Mayhew for many years and is also a commissioning editor for the company, it is only recently that Paul began writing. From their contributions to pastoral care handbooks to their very own titles that range from study courses and joining the Anglican Church to retreat days and the important work of church schools, the Cox brothers have covered a wide spectrum and their list of titles have been well received critically.

Other recent publications include their esteemed contributions to the important new title More sermons on Difficult Subjects. Elsewhere, John offers a fresh and exciting resource for those leading and speaking during this season of Lent in the aptly titled The Week that Changed the World.

The Week that Changed the World by John CoxJoining the Anglican Church by Paul CoxMore Than Caring and Sharing by John Cox

More information about the twins plus further titles by the pair are available at You can ‘like’ Critical Friend on Facebook:

Posted by Sarah

What are you giving up (or taking up!) for Lent?

Pick up and use Youth Work Resource for Church and SchoolThe Greatest Love Story Ever Told and then some by Rosie RushtonFeasts and Festivals by Claire Benton-Evans
Derek the ClericHiding in God by Annie HeppenstallThe Psalms - Translated by Nick King
Fruitfull by Suzi StockThe New Testament - Translated by Nicholas KingOur Earth, Our Home by Ellen Teague

A wise priest once told me, ‘Give vent to your creative bent this Lent’ – so this year, I’m going to start learning the ukulele! It will be the first musical instrument I’ve tried to learn since I gave up piano lessons at 15…it could be a long forty days and forty nights!
Claire Benton-Evans

I’m giving up the early morning cup of coffee, with a view to praying a bit more. And possibly abandoning alcohol…
Nicholas King

I like the idea of taking something up instead. I’m going to start a ‘thankful’ box. Basically each day I will try to write down a short thing I’m thankful for on a slip of paper and put it in a box or jar…. then at the end of the year I will read them through. I’ve heard of people who have done this and they say how positive and encouraging it is so I’m hoping I can keep it up!!
Suzi Stock

I’m going to make an effort to actually finish all the books I have on the go…that’s a biography, three poetry books and two novels at the moment!
Sarah Sibley (Copy Editor and Social Media Publicist)

I’m going to curb my sweet tooth- no more Humbugs, Skittles or Cola bottles!
Steven Gibbon (Website Manager)

Having stocked up on pancakes for yet another year I and my flock at St.Cliff’s are journeying through this season of Lent by abstaining from that firm favourite: chocolate.That my elevenses are invariably accompanied by a digestive biscuit covered with this now-forbidden treat makes this an even greater sacrifice for this humble clergyman. Between you and me, I had considered proposing that our discordant and cacophonous organist, Mrs Higginbottom, perhaps lay off ‘tinkling the ivories’ for this forty day fast but discretion got the better of me. Onward and upward.
Derek the Cleric

I’m going to try to give up crisps. It sounds like a small thing (and I know it is in the grand scheme of things) but I eat a lot of crisps! It will certainly make me think abut God most lunchtimes when I have my lunch.
Philip Eley

I’m giving up drinking tea!
Abbie Goldberg (Marketing Manager)

I’m going to try and give up fizzy drinks.
Kevin Duncan (Managing Director)

I’m ‘taking up’ rather than ‘giving up’, I want to re-awaken my musicality, which was always a real love of mine and also an important part of my prayer life, but it got a bit lost in recent years. I want to be able to replace ‘I used to play …’ with ‘I play’.
Annie Heppenstall

This Lent I will be attempting to reduce my use of my car by at least 50%, shopping more frequently from shops nearby to reduce wastage, and reading the Psalms cover to cover!
Rosie Rushton

I’m giving up having three sugars in my tea and sticking to two from now on!
Amanda Harker (Sales Coordinator)

I’m giving up junk food!
James Hare (Sales Coordinator)

I’ll be attending Pax Christi’s Ash Wednesday Vigil at the Ministry of Defence today to repent Britain’s Nuclear Weapons expenditure and nuclear threat. Throughout Lent I’ll support campaigns to stop more expenditure on Trident. Lent is a time for repentance and making peace.
Ellen Teague

Posted by Sarah 

New titles coming soon from Nicholas King, Annie Heppenstall and Claire Benton-Evans…watch this space! A range of ‘Derek the Cleric’ greetings cards are available from our trade site at Books by all mentioned authors and more can be found on our website at:

Why play the recorder?

Ready, Steady Recorder! by Sarah Watts

Composer Sarah Watts has extended her repertoire of creative recorder tutors with her biggest tutor to date and to celebrate its Spring launch we thought we’d gather together some very good reasons to take up the recorder!

It’s arguably the most affordable instrument to take up (though some are available for upwards of a thousand pounds!). It’s good value for money too- lots of ‘bang for the buck’ as one music teacher put it.

Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen are just a few musicians who can play the recorder.

The descant recorder is a good stepping stone to playing other members of the recorder family (bass, tenor, treble (alto) and sopranino recorders) and it teaches skills that can be transferred to other wind instruments such as knowing how to cover holes and control your breathing.

It is small and light weight, which means it’s also easy to transport.

The recorder is an excellent starter instrument for all ages– very easy to make a sound on and a perfect instrument for teaching basic music theory.

The recorder’s simplistic design and readily available instruction books make it a perfect instrument for the masses.

In a school environment it is perhaps the only introduction to playing a musical instrument for a large group of children who would never otherwise get the opportunity.

The recorder is the instrument where most people start to foster their love of playing music.

It teaches coordination skills: When you play the recorder you’re breathing with your lungs, reading music with your eyes, playing notes and songs by moving your fingers all while sitting/standing up straight.

It improves social skills through group playing.

Lastly, it provides a source of joy, self-esteem and self-expression, to every single player…regardless of ability!

Posted by Sarah

Ready, Steady Recorder! is available for pre-order from the Kevin Mayhew website at:

For teachers- download a free sample pack here:

How is ‘Fit for Purpose’ fit for purpose?

Fit for Purpose by Ed Hone

 Fit for purpose is a seven week Lent Course primarily but not exclusively for groups. The absence of frills and props means there’s a smooth transition between using it in either capacity and there are chapters at the start of the book on using it whichever way too.

The tone is searching and impassioned- from the ‘restless creativity of God’ to what unbalanced ‘spiritual diets’ would look like, and there’s a real pick and mix of lively writing with the author dipping in to everything from the first moon landing to budget air travel in order to get the reader thinking. The ‘Spiritual fitness quiz’ will let you know if you need a ‘spiritual ambulance’ or are ‘the picture of rosy spiritual health’; light hearted and fun but there’s perhaps a limited option of answers for some questions!

The suggested hymns are optional if working through this book alone, as I did, and it didn’t seem odd or distracting to be reading ‘leader’ parts without there being one. I did find the weekly ‘Catching up’ part repetitive but it is aimed more at groups and would be apt for breaking the ice and also for forming real connections with others.

Lastly, it’s fairly short at 107 pages but for £8.99 you definitely won’t be feeling short changed!

Reviewed by Sarah

Available from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from KM online and by phone ( +44 (0)845 3881634

Ed Hone is a member of the Redemptorist missionary order. He specialises in mission development, preaching and creative liturgy, working chiefly in Britain and Ireland. Ed is currently parish priest of the English-speaking Catholic parish in Luxembourg.