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

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

Pay Day Delight



Covering everything from Daily Prayer to resources for All-Age Worship, with popular authors like Nick Fawcett and Claire Benton-Evans, from Nicholas King’s important new translation of the Bible to Study Courses for any time of the year, our Christian Book Department has all you or your church could need.

From Backing Track Resources like  No Organist? No Problem to get the whole congregation singing, even when you don’t have an organist, to the very best of Margaret Rizza, from soothing Celtic Sounds to Spoken Word, KM Records produces CDs for all situations, public and personal.

Our Sheet Music Department takes care of everything from Tutors to Repertoire, from Recorders to Ensembles and everything in between. Featuring some of the most influential composers from over the years, including Mozart, William Lloyd Webber, Sarah Watts and Heather Hammond, you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for, whether you play the flute or sing in a choir!

What’s more, this weekend only (28/03/14-31/03/14), simply enter/quote BLOG1 at checkout and take advantage of our exclusive 15% OFF Pay Day Offer!

To explore our Christian Books and see what treasures you can find, click here…

To explore KM Records and which Albums or Box Sets take your fancy, click here…

To explore Sheet Music and get exciting new pieces for your repertoire, click here…

‘We can’t sing up there’

‘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.

I play for a service at a care home for the elderly where they really know their hymns (often by heart) and they complain that they can no longer sing along to Songs of Praise because the hymns are too high.

And after Christmas I met a large number of people who had been forced to drop out of the carols for the same reason.

Carols especially – think of Christians, awake! Hark, the herald-angels sing, Once in royal David’s city and even Silent night – have not just got very high notes but the tunes also hang around up there, which is even worse.

The problem is easily solved: tunes don’t have to be pitched so high and, as a working church musician, I play them in much lower keys and the congregation sings with enthusiasm and comfort.

Some organists can do this themselves as part of their training and the thing to do is to negotiate a comfortable pitch with your own organist.

Others need the music rewritten for them so that they can play lower and this is an area we have been looking at recently, to provide the material they need.

Our book Hymn Tunes in Lower Keys has the tunes for 314 hymns, while Hymns That Aren’t Too High has 400, including a good number of worship songs. These books are suitable for all denominations.

Letters from our customers confirm not only the usefulness of these books but also how much they have improved the singing. One organist wrote: ‘I play for a crematorium and this book is a godsend. Even the men at funerals now join in.’ Another wrote to say that he wished he had had the book from the beginning of his career as a church musician.

So congregations everywhere, keep complaining until your organist brings your hymns down to your level!

Kevin Mayhew

Kevin Mayhew

Taken at Nicholas King’s The Bible Launch

A very personal translation…

Review by The Rev Dr Paul Ellingworth for The Methodist Recorder

The Bible Presentation Edition - Nicholas King

It is probably correct to describe The Bible: A Study Bible, freshly translated by Nicholas King (Kevin Mayhew hardback edition £49.99, presentation edition £59.99), as unique. There have been other English versions of the Bible by single translators such as James Moffatt and Ronald Knox. However, for the last generation or more, these have been based on Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the Old Testament and Greek of the New.

There have also been English translations of the Greek version of the Old Testament, commonly known as the “Septuagint” or “LXX”. Since 1851 the best known of these has been that by a translator with the resounding name of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton; this version was recently republished in American English by Michael Paul Johnson as LXX2012. In addition, there is a “New Translation of the Septuagint” (NETS), published by Oxford University Press in 2007, and reprinted with corrections and emendations in 2009. There are also in progress translations of the Septuagint into Spanish, French and German. So what makes Nicholas King’s version unique? Like the others, it offers an English translation of the Greek Old Testament, including the apocrypha or deuterocanonical writings, misleadingly described by the publishers as being “from the original Greek”; but it adds a translation of the New Testament which is, of course, from the original.

King describes his version as a “Study Bible”. Each book and in the Old testament each group of books (the Pentateuch, the historical books, the wisdom literature, and the prophets), has a concise introduction and explanatory footnotes. In the New Testament, footnotes are limited to references to Old Testament texts; explanatory material is presented on the page in the same type as the text, but heavily indented to avoid confusion.

This is a very personal work. One cannot imagine Moffatt or Knox beginning a preface with the address: “Dear Reader”. King came to understand “this translation [as] a vocation, a calling within the wider calling to be a Jesuit priest who teaches biblical studies”.

He speaks of his surprise when the work was completed and also of “a sense that something is missing which I had come greatly to value”. The language of both translation and additional material is fresh and appropriately informal: the introduction to the Acts of the Apostles begins: “The racy tale that you are about to read …”, and concludes, referring to the Holy Spirit: “Watch how this power is made evident throughout this extraordinary story.”

This is a version intended to be read rather than analysed, so detailed criticism is best left to academic journals.

But readers may be somewhat deterred by a few features which are not part of current English style, such as the repeated “and” at the beginning of sentences in both Old and New Testaments. It would also be helpful if, in any future edition, verses were individually numbered in the New Testament as they are in the Old. It can be frustrating to search for a particular verse in a passage for example, as long as John 8. 12-59 or as compact as Galati ans 3. 6-29. King defends his choice to translate the Septuagint by stating, correctly, that it was “the version most used by our New Testament authors” and that the LXX manuscripts “in some cases preserve a superior reading”. This does not, of course, mean that the LXX as a whole is superior to the Hebrew and Aramaic texts.

The publishers are to be congratulated on producing a book of more than 2,400 pages which is still pleasant to handle. Methodists need have no fear of being led astray by a tendentious Roman Catholic version: Gabriel’s greeting to Mary is rendered: “Rejoice, you who have received favour.” I recommend that readers of the Methodist Recorder look at this translation for themselves – of course along- side others. They will learn much from it and mostly enjoy it.


A quick chat with Ali Dee…

Summer Songs

Describe a typical day in the life of Ali Dee

Currently, my day starts with a bounce (literally!) on my mini trampoline, as I try to convince my body that it is alive and awake and raring to go.  I listen to music while I bounce, looking out into my garden, watching the cats chase the birds in the willow tree.  I’d like to say I listen to music which is uplifting and inspirational, but the reality is that I listen to whatever my husband had put onto his old walkman years ago and spend most of my time skipping tracks!

Shower, jobs and porridge out of the way and I’m off!  And from then on my days can be quite varied …

I work from home, so on a song writing day, I will settle down with my piano, keyboard and computer.  The first I love, the second I tolerate and the third I loathe but couldn’t work without! I often have nuggets of songs (which I record) pop into my head … when I’m washing up or in the car, or quite often at 3 o’clock in the morning which can be irritating, so I may start by listening through these and then begin to develop ideas.

I prefer to be on my own when I write as I like to sing and play without feeling inhibited by other people’s ears.  If it’s a rousing, moving song such as ‘This Could be the Moment’ from Sing with the Stars, I can get quite carried away and if the windows aren’t shut, the neighbours get a real treat!!  If it’s one of my sillier songs such as ‘Spooky Spider’ in Sing Make Believe Songs, then I definitely have to keep the windows closed or I would very quickly be whisked away by the men in white coats!!  I can also be seen dancing and leaping around to some of my action songs – just to make sure they work!  That is fine until the postman walks by the window when I am mid-leap!

On editing days, I am attached by a thread (aka my inbox) to Donald, the wonderful music editor who lives hundreds of miles away, as he tries to make sense of my music and bring it to a semblance of order!

I also work in schools, taking music workshops and on these days I am in full view leaping about with the children as we dance, sing and play instruments with great enthusiasm!  I love these sessions and the creativity the children bring to their music making is inspiring!

What is left of my day then involves squeezing in my mum, my husband, my daughters and my grandchildren and then all those mundane bits of life which we none of us can escape  … and so to bed!  Zzzzz!

Do you have a specific writing/composing process?

No, as with most of my life, it is all fairly erratic.  Having said that, maybe there is some kind of process happening … I usually work on the lyrics and music simultaneously.  Somehow I can’t seem to separate these out from each other, so they tend to grow and develop as one entity.  I sit at the piano to play and sing around an idea that is in my head, jotting things down on bits of paper, teasing out melodies and chords and words as I go along.  Although I do read music, I tend to play by ear and would certainly never sit and write anything out on a piece of manuscript paper.  But eventually, what is in my head has to make it into manuscript form if I want other people to be able to play/sing it, so I turn to my computer program which magically converts what is in my head into something legible (Donald may disagree!).  I would then record what I have written to send off for approval,  struggling I confess, to play from the music I have written (I would prefer to play straight from my head, but as this can change each time I play, I try to conform to what is on paper in front of me)!

Can you tell us some of the styles and influences on your work?

Not sure I’m allowed to do that as it would be advertising the competition – but there are some great children’s composers out there whose work I love!  There are also plenty of children’s songs which are dull and boring and a lot which are just old! It is surprising how many schools still stick with songs that have been around for decades (and they were boring in the first place!) because they lack the confidence or motivation to learn something new.  I think that’s a real shame and the children and staff really miss out on some exciting singing opportunities.  Many more, though, are beginning to realise the value of singing and its importance to school life.  There is a real buzz when you hear a singing school – and a confidence about the children when they sing!  Back to the question! I do, however, glean inspiration from all over the place.  Any music I listen to, be it jazz, folk, pop, classical, world music, whatever,  might pop an idea into my head – maybe a particular rhythm that sounds good or a musical phrase or chord sequence that jumps out at me.  Ideas for lyrics could come from anywhere, a phrase read in a story, a conversation on the radio, a picture that startles me, a walk in the countryside, a peaceful moment in the garden, the design on a pair of curtains, a giggle from a child…


Did you grow up in a musical household?

My dad always loved to sing, very enthusiastically – but not always in tune, but as children we were encouraged to learn to play instruments so I had piano lessons and played in a recorder group.  Like most children, I never wanted to practise and it wasn’t until we all agreed that I didn’t have to take music exams any more that I actually started to enjoy playing.

Was music something you studied formally?

Oops!  Think I tumbled into answering that one too soon!  So, yes, I took piano exams up to grade 5, but then carried on having lessons without the constraints of an exam syllabus and started having fun playing pieces up to around grade 8 standard.  Then followed the years which perhaps changed the way I play forever.  I stopped having lessons, stopped playing from music and started playing by ear.  I found a freedom to express myself musically which I had never known before and loved being able to play something which was all me – not my interpretation of somebody else!  I guess this is where the composer was born.  I taught myself to play the guitar and began to write songs, singing them wherever I could.

Was it always your ambition to reach young children with your music?

I have always loved working with and being around young children and I have always loved music, but it wasn’t until quite late on in my career that the two came together.  Working as a teaching assistant in a local infant school, the music co-ordinator had left and music was in danger of fizzling out.  I offered to take some percussion workshops which were used as a reward for the children who had been picked as ‘Stars of the Week’.  These were hugely successful and I began to put together my ideas for bringing music back into the classroom, writing a topic-based music scheme of work for the whole school which provided the children with lots of hands-on instrument playing and exciting music projects to engage with.  At the same time, I began writing songs for the school – a school anthem, which made the staff and parents cry every time the children sang it, and a song about the school motto. From the on teachers would say ‘do you know a song about …?’ and I would say ‘no, but I will write one’!  And so began the song writing for children.  I had a ready made quality control system in the children … they tend only to sing really well the songs that they really like.  And, fortunately for me, they seemed to like my songs!

Do you offer individual mentorship or workshops?

I work predominantly in schools, running music workshops for whole classes.  These are either one-off music sessions or longer term projects where I work with a class over a period of weeks, for instance, to create a composition which they can then perform.  This kind of workshop requires a lot of energy and organisation, and is the sort of thing that can be difficult for class teachers to fit in themselves on top of everything else that is demanded of them.  Many teachers have commented on the fact that as they are not responsible for running the sessions, it frees them up to really see what the children are capable of and they are frequently amazed by what even the very young children can achieve!

What reasons would you give for using your music?

As with all aspects of education, I do think it is crucial to constantly find new things to inspire, not to get stuck in ruts of doing something because that is how or what has always been done.  Therefore new music is always important to keep singing alive and vibrant.  Why use mine?  I always write for a reason, not on demand, and so I feel that all my music comes from inside me.  It therefore hopefully reflects my character and is original, genuine, quirky, funny or moving.  The children are the true test of my songs, and all the feedback I get is that they love to sing them.  I can’t ask for higher praise than that!

What are your hopes and intentions for the Sing series?

I would love for this series to take off in schools across the UK and beyond.  It provides songs for so many of the popular school topics, for supporting PSHE work and assemblies, for choirs and for singing in the classroom.  There are plenty of simple, catchy songs but also those with optional harmonies and second parts to stretch the more adventurous.  I do think there is something in here for pretty much every occasion, and hopefully more to come!

How long did the series take you to write/compose?

It is still ongoing really, as more are coming out this year and I hope to continue to write more books.  Some are songs I wrote when I was a teaching assistant, but most have been written in the last couple of years.

There's always one!

If you had to be a character in one of your musicals who would it be and why?

Hmm… that’s a tricky one!  I think it would either have to be Our Duckling from ‘There’s Always One’ or Shirley the Sheep in ‘The Fleas’ Christmas Story’.  Our Duckling is one of those characters you just can’t keep down – there is so much to explore and discover, he is all over the place, into everything, causing mayhem but loved by everyone!  Shirley only has a small part in the Christmas story, but her character comes across in the song ‘A very excited sheep’.  She, like Our Duckling, is so exuberant, that she just bursts out into bounces, hops and skips as she can’t contain her excitement about this new baby.  Maybe these choices reflect something of my character ?!  I blame my hair which has something of a wild and excitable nature!

What can we look forward to next from you?

The Drummer Boy is coming out very soon – a new Christmas musical for KS 2 children which I am very excited about.  There is scope not just for singing and acting but also for budding musicians to play their part too.

More books in the Sing series are on their way – one for each season.

And we are currently working on a big project which is due out in September. This is going to be a fully resourced topic based, but highly adaptable, scheme of work for children in Foundation Stage (F2) and Key Stage One.  There are six projects based on popular topics such as recycling, castles and gardens but all of them can easily be adapted to fit many other topics.  Each project will have a series of music lesson plans for each year group, a listening unit, musical stories and poems, songs and interactive elements.  All come with resources such as music clips, videos, power point presentations, pictures etc provided.  This is a huge project, not just for me but for the whole team at Kevin Mayhew, who are working fast and furiously and incredibly skilfully as I write!  I have done all the donkey work, but they are the ones who are about to bring it all to life!  Watch this space…

From the archives: Finding your Inner Treasure (2010) ~ Helen Warwick


A good proportion of this rather meaty 346 page book is made up of hands-on exercises involving (amongst other things) paper, felt tips, paint, symbols, words, magazine cuttings, dough, the Bible and using the imagination- all of which are aimed at getting you to learn ‘the language of your unconscious to connect to God in a way that’s personal to you.’ All of these techniques require an instinctive approach, and are very much grounded in interpretation and looking for connections between what’s happening in your life and what you’ve found yourself visualising, sculpting or putting down on paper.

Notable chapters deal with examining the pace of your life,decision making and finding your true purpose. Later chapters seem to have a kind of anchoring effect which may appeal to those who have problems living in the present moment or who are anxious about what the future might bring. Her reflections on the Bible and the way she relates it to back to life issues will suit all readers- whether your copy is gathering dust on a shelf or you’re just looking for a fresh approach to it.

Reflections on Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, The Catcher in the Rye, Henri Nouwen and St Teresa of Avila also make a pleasing appearance and there are some candid insights into her past struggle with ME, her life in general, as well as methods and case studies from her work as a Spiritual Director.

Early on in the book, Helen writes with the assumption that the majority of her readers will have lost touch with their creativity at some point along the way and offers reassurance to those who may be sceptical about some of her methods. She also speaks directly to those with busy lives with little time for reflection, promising them a journey towards wholeness. For those who are already in touch with their creativity and/or spirituality the book offers a fun and fresh take on exploring your inner landscape and something that will go some way to consolidate the insights already gained on your spiritual journey.

Finding your Inner Treasure is available from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from Kevin Mayhew online www.kevinmayhew.com/finding-your-inner-treasure.html or by telephone 01449 737978
Posted by Sarah

How low can you go? Hymns in lower keys

Chubby Checker Limbo Party

We haven’t been practising the limbo in the KM office this week!…but thinking generally about hymns in lower keys and a resource (Hymn Tunes in Lower Keys) that we published back in 2011 for which we’ve always received postive feedback: I simply had to write to tell you what a phenomenal difference the book has made! The response of church and crematorium congregations has been wonderful. Once they realise they can actually manage ALL the notes of the melody without bursting blood vessels…my word, they have been singing with some oomph!- Without wishing to be blasphemous, this book has become my BIBLE- it never leaves my side during the working day! (Dr David N. Evans)

Hymn tunes in Lower Keys

Do you find that most hymns in today’s hymnals are written in keys too high for the average churchgoer to sing? This (apparently) despite many hymns being in lower keys today than they were in hymnals fifty years ago. Musicians have various theories as to why hymns now seem too high: “Hymns were always too high, but in the past, vocal styles were different. Singers of whatever genre didn’t belt out a song the way American Idol contestants do today. Voices were thinner and more fluid, allowing for a larger range….” Says one Blogger here: http://freelancelibrarian.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/hymn-keys.html

…I suspect it was and still is a struggle though- for those who are simply more comfortable in the low part of their vocal range, or that have a voice that suits the lower range of notes.

Maybe you are someone who can transpose notes ‘at sight’? Perhaps Kevin Mayhew resources are ideal for you or maybe they are too low or not low enough?! Do you use lower key resources but switch to higher keys once your voice has warmed up? Whatever your experience we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch below or by email, Facebook or Twitter!

50 Hymns in Lower Keys

Both resources are available from all good Music Shops and Christian Bookshops. You can also purchase them direct from the KM website www.kevinmayhew.com/hymn-tunes-in-lower-keys.html (Book) and (CD) www.kevinmayhew.com/top-50-hymns-in-lower-keys-cd.html

Posted by Sarah