Fear Not, Little Flock
Hymns of Rae E. Whitney
Author Rae E. Whitney
Released November 2006
Catalog no. I: 125-402 (Soft-cover, spiral binding, 76 pp.)
II: 125-403 (Soft-cover, spiral binding, 86 pp.)
Price $16 for each volume. (U.S.)
Read the Foreword by Ray Glover, and the Introduction by Rae E. Whitney. Download an excerpt from Vol. I.
"I heartily recommend this book [Vol. I] as a vital vehicle for study and use in parish liturgies. Through Rae's texts, members of our congregations will find that the accounts of events in the life of Jesus that we hear read Sunday after Sunday take on new and added meaning, enriching both their own lives as well as the corporate life of their communities." --AAM Journal, February 2007
Rae Whitney's hymns speak volumes about being a Christian, and give us new insights into Bible stories we have heard all our lives. It is her sensitivity to the human condition and spiritual needs of Christians that have made her hymns find their way into many hymnals, and into the hearts of those that read and sing them. The two volumes of Fear Not, Little Flock present 99 of these hymns in settings by today's best composers and include hymns for all times of worship.
Foreword by Ray Glover
In the 1960's a phenomenon, later called The Hymn Explosion, hit England and out of it came the wonderful texts of Fred Pratt Green, Brian Wren and, somewhat later, the texts of Timothy Dudley-Smith and others. A decade or so later, when churches in the United States began what has been a twenty-five year period of hymnal revision, a similar Hymnal Explosion hit America. This Explosion is ongoing in the United States and Canada; from it we have a continuing output from truly fine women poets. Among them is Rae E. Whitney some of whose works constitute the two volumes of this publication. British by birth and education, Rae came to the States in 1961 as the bride of the late Rev. Clyde Whitney. A devoted wife committed to the life and work of the Episcopal Church, Rae began to write hymn texts in the 1970s. One of her earliest and finest texts, which I believe has now reached the status of being a classic, is a paraphrase of the Song of Simeon, Nunc Dimittis, 'Lord God, you now have set your servant free." First published in 1981 this text is now included in The Hymnal 1982 (1985), The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990), Voices United (Canada 1996), and Together in Song (Australia 1999). Other texts by this gifted and prolific writer appear in The Baptist Hymnal (1991), A New Hymnal for Colleges and Schools (1992), New Century Hymnal (1995), Voices Found (2004) and various supplements. I feel sure that in future editions of denominational hymnals and supplements the name of Rae Whitney will continue to be listed as a contributor.
In the two volumes of this publication we have a select number of texts from the five hundred that have come from Rae Whitney's pen. These texts are matched with tunes, arrangements and harmonizations by a rich variety of contemporary American composers. Rae's texts included here are rich in Biblical imagery, many are liturgically oriented; all reflect the deep faith of this very committed Christian woman. Because they arise from the diversity of this poet's life experiences, they will resonate with many privileged to sing them. I consider it an honor to have been invited to write this foreword. To Rae E. Whitney and the composers whose works accompany her texts I extend a deep expression of gratitude and respect.
--Raymond. F. Glover
General Editor of The Hymnal 1982 and General Editor of The Hymnal 1982 Companion, and a founder of the Association of Anglican Musicians.
Introduction by Rae E. Whitney
From the five hundred hymn texts I have written, David Schaap has chosen about 90 different texts to publish in two books, with settings from over thirty contemporary composers. More of my texts can be found in With Joy Our Spirits Sing (1995, Selah Publishing Co.).
The texts in Fear Not, Little Flock I & II have been chosen by the Editor for their variety and for the response made to them by various musicians. Why certain texts attract different composers, I don’t know, but Al Fedak says that, for him, "it was simply a matter of my being drawn to your words, being moved by them in some way, and hearing music in them."
Although always a lover of hymns, I never set out to be a hymn poet. A few texts were written in my younger days, but I didn’t really start writing until the late 1970's, when I found such an activity to be a way of praying. Then friends and critics, such as my husband, Clyde, and Marian Barnett (AGO), convinced me to share my texts with others. About this time I was introduced to the Hymn Societies of the U.K. and North America, became a member of both, and have continued to value their publications, conferences and workshops. It is always a joy to meet fellow lovers of hymns, and the warm friendships made through the Hymn Societies are priceless.
This two-book collection is called Fear Not, Little Flock, because those words of Christ have had great significance for Clyde and me. Our marriage was both trans-generational and trans-national, Clyde having being born in the United States 26 years before my own birth in England. We met in Italy in 1960. He proposed at Assisi a few days later. I said, "Nonsense!" He grinned. "I'll give you another week." By the time we got back to England, I was pretty sure I was in love too, and accepted his ring.
The next month we boarded an Atlantic liner with the idea of my visiting his home in Western Nebraska. We had both been somewhat apprehensive as to whether we would be doing the right thing. Clyde had been rector of St Andrew's Episcopal parish, Scottsbluff, for the past 17 years, and I was aware there would be 200 future mothers-in-law to meet! But, one day, on deck, as we were reading Morning Prayer, it happened that the appointed lesson was Luke 12. Suddenly out of the pages, verse 32 leapt as confirmation of our decision: "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." It was a verse neither of us had ever consciously seen before! From that moment on, we had no doubt about our future life together. I was received most warmly in Nebraska, and returned a month later to England to complete my teaching commitment, and to prepare for our New Year's Eve wedding in my home town of Chippenham. Some 20 years later, I wrote the song, "Fear Not, Little Flock," which appears in Book II.
A few months before Clyde died in 1992, we made our funeral arrangements, choosing a plot in a little cemetery near Scotts Bluff National Monument. We even ordered the tombstone, and had those special “Fear not” words inscribed on it! So when, about three weeks after his death, the tombstone was put in place, and an informal dedication service was held, we played a tape of Clyde singing my "Fear not, little flock." A bird in the nearest tree joined in as soon as Clyde's voice was heard, and it sang all the way through, ending only when the music stopped!
I want to thank all the composers who have seen a song within my words, many of whom I have grown to appreciate as friends through The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. I am also grateful to David Schaap of Selah Publishing Co. for his encouragement over the years, and for his efforts now in gathering these texts and tunes together, so that individuals and parishes can also sing from Fear Not, Little Flock.
--Rae E. Whitney