Praise, My Soul
The Hymns of Herbert O'Driscoll
Author Herbert O'Driscoll
Released July 2005
Catalog no. 125-445 (Soft-cover, spiral binding, 88 pp.)
Price $15 (U.S.)
Read the Introduction by Herbert O'Driscoll. Download an excerpt from this book.
"Herbert O’Driscoll brings to his hymnwriting many of the qualities that have enhanced his well-deserved reputations as a preacher and as an author. Here are the same attention to pivotal detail, the same gift for storytelling, the same ability to challenge and convince. Although they are tidied for publication under seven headings, these texts were written during a span of thirty-three years and range over many subjects. They are set to a comparable variety of tunes, from the familiar to the newly-composed. (One of the several contemporary North American composers represented here is the author's wife.) In content and craft, these texts and tunes combine to offer a very stimulating collection."
--Carl P. Daw, Jr.
Executive Director, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada
Introduction by Herbert O'Driscoll
Just like human beings, hymns come into the world at every conceivable hour and in every conceivable place. For curiosity I began to recall where and when some of the hymns in this collection came into being. First of all I know that every hour of day and night is somewhere on my listincluding a number of occasions that involved rising from bed as the world slept and furiously scribbling some lines before they vanished with morning light.
It is impossible to do this particular exercise in the small hours without recalling the dreadful fate of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who dreamed the full text of Kubla Khan, woke some time later, tried desperately to get it all down and failed.
Likewise the locations of the arrival of a hymn are legion. On a train, at a lakeside cottage, in a traffic jam (particularly challenging for the scribbler), on planes, during sermons (a dreadful admission for one who himself must at times preach!), in airport lounges, by fires of a winter’s eveningthe list is endless.
And always there is the same excitement. It may be the sudden arrival of a first line, complete and ready to be added todemanding to be added to! It may be the sudden arrival of the overall idea or plan for a hymn, this time demanding that work begin immediately on constructing the stanzas. But whatever the first moment of awareness may be, there is the thrill of a new hymn.
Sometimes--and this is to enter the confessional--when one finishes the process, the torn pages of rejected attempts piled beside one, the verses of the finished article set out upon the successful page, sometimes the wild thought comes that this particular hymn will take its place among the great hymns; that it will echo in vast places on great occasions down through the centuries! One imagines choristers of the far future wondering idly who this long dead person was who penned what they must sing.
Gentle reader, I am sure that you had no idea that hymn writers could be guilty of such vanities, but then, as the preacher wisely remarked in long ago Babylon, "all is vanity," and we might as well be honest and admit it.
Nothing mitigates vanity like expressing gratitude to others without whose gifts this little collection would not be in your hand. My thanks to Robert MacLennan who gives firm advice in a most gentle way; to David Schaap who offered to give this collection his experience and professional resources; to those who composed tunes for my words--Patrick Wedd, Rupert Lang, David White, David Young, William Rowan, Frederick Clarke, Frederick Atkinson, Alfred Fedak, Calvin Hampton, John Wright (who contributed two arrangements), and my wife Paula O’Driscoll.
Let the above somewhat light hearted lines be testimony to the delight that these verses have given to me over the years, and let me indulge the hope that on some or other page, you the reader--dare I say singer--may also find some echo of that delight.
Victoria, British Columbia