TODAY, a vicar should be coming to the end of what he believes
is the nation's first hymn-singing marathon by a cleric.
Since Monday, the Vicar of St Cuthbert's, Darlington, the Revd
Robert Williamson, has been working through the 628 hymns in
Common Praise at the rate of 125 a day. He was scheduled
to finish today, which is his 60th birthday.
Mr Williamson invited people from his parish to accompany him,
and was cheered on his first day to be joined by a woman from the
church choir, who stuck with him for the entire two-hour session.
"It meant I was occasionally able to ease down a bit," Mr
He also had a pack of throat lozenges with him, just in
Mr Williamson was drawing on his classical training at the Royal
Academy of Music from his degree studies in theology and music
-although it was a "few" years ago. "I know about breathing from
the diaphragm and all that sort of thing," he said on
The music was being provided by a team of three organists, and,
to fit all the hymns into the week, they limited performances to
the first and last verses of each one.
"I was looking for a fun way to raise money both for Christian
Aid and for the church, which desperately needs a new heating
system," he said. "I thought, 'Well, I enjoy singing; so why not?'
We had fairly recently acquired this new Common Praise
hymn book; so I thought I would learn some new hymns, have some
fun, and raise some money.
"I have raised £1000 so far, and I have found two new hymns I
had never come across before, both by R. R. Terry. They are lovely
tunes. One is a Christmas hymn which I shall certainly use.
"As far as I know, this challenge has never been attempted by a