Thursday, 16 October 2008

Sticking up for Kendrick...

The Daily Mail recently published their 50 people who wrecked Britain.

There, at number 39, one worse than Gordon Brown, was Graham Kendrick!

Here is the apparent justification:

Happy-cr*ppy hymns are a pestilence. They demean adult worship, dragging it to a level even lower than that of Mrs C. F. Alexander's All Things Bright And Beautiful (1848). They are self-obsessed, babyish, cliched, simplistic.

Several authors have written these appalling hymns. The daddy of them all when it comes to such gloopy nonsense, however, is Graham Kendrick, author of Shine, Jesus, Shine.

Kendrick, who has a personal website complete with an efficient shopping section, is the nation's pre-eminent churner-outer of evangelical bilge. Imagine Pam Ayres without the humour.

He started writing hymns in the late Sixties and has now written 400 of the ruddy things. Should it not be a strength of Anglican worship that it does not move with the times and instead provides continuity at a time of baffling change?

But no. It's out with the harmonium! In with the electric guitar! Out with the hymns sung by our forebears, such as He Who Would Valiant Be and Hills Of The North. In with the roughagerich Bind Us Together or the negro spiritual cum grammatical solecism It's A Me, O' Lord.

The sturdy hymns of England, musical embodiment of the stoicism, resolve and undemonstrative solidarity of our nation, are in severe peril, and all thanks to ill-shaven remnants of the late Sixties - grinning inadequates who have never got over the fact that they weren't Cat Stevens.

Frankly - this is a ridiculous piece of writing. But, daftness aside it does rather highlight the absolutely massive impact that Kendrick's ministry has had upon christian culture in ways that spill out into popular culture. Looking at the "legacy" of Kendrick's ministry is a two part exercise. On the one hand, there can be a tendency for more modern songs to lack a certain backbone or meaning and this can cause worship to end up totally devoid of purpose. But whose fault is that? Certainly not Kendrick's - for his ministry effectively opened the floodgates for a whole genre of Christian music which has brought christian worship flying into the mainstream in ways never though possible by previous generations.

When Delirious went on tour with Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi in 2001 and 2002 Christian music had entered a whole new ball game. That game was invented by a group of musicians in the late 70s and early 80s of whom Kendrick became the face of something that was always much larger than him.

I cannot remember the last time I sung "Shine Jesus Shine" as it is one of those songs which has gone over the edge of popularity and into farce in the public consciousness. Kendrick now gets the response Abba get in popular music. But the simple fact is that he helped to open a door through which massive blessing was poured out onto the Church and it's mission in the UK and overseas. It may have cost him mention in a few negative newspaper articles, but frankly, his presence there is testament to his impact as much as anything else.

1 comment:

planty said...

Hmmm, until I read your post I had no idea of who Graham Kendrick was. But I have to say altough the language was typical Daily Mail OTT it has a (small) point.

As a 30something Anglican I can't stand this kind of song, happy clappy is how I'd tag it on

But I know that's just me and others I'm sure love the stuff, each to their own I guess!