THE hymn “Christ, be our light” by the Roman Catholic author-composer Bernardette Farrell was the most popular hymn downloaded for use in Protestant churches in Europe during the past year, a licence platform reported this week.
It was published by Oregon Catholic Press in 1993. The chorus is: “Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.”
The other hymns topping the list, provided by One License, were: “All are welcome” by Marty Haugen; “Here I am, Lord” by Dan Schutte (two versions); and “Wait for the Lord” by Jacques Berthier, of the Taizé community, who holds five of the top 15 places.
The list, comprising largely works by Roman Catholic composers, illustrates the popularity outside the Roman Catholic Church itself of hymns composed in the wake of the Vatican II liturgical reforms.
Demand for hymns from One License and other licence platforms has increased heavily during the past year, as churches sought to live-stream services during lockdown. Unless music is by composers and authors who died more than 70 years ago, a licence is required. One License experienced a tenfold increase in demand for its podcast and streaming licences worldwide.
In March 2020, it made two licences available, free, for one year, enabling churches, schools, and other worshipping bodies to reprint or project music for congregations from any of its member publishers, or to stream religious services containing music from these publishers.
Its catalogue includes more than 160,000 pieces from more than 300 publishers, including the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), Oxford University Press, and Kevin Mayhew. It does not include ThankYou Music, or Integrity Music, which publish Christian songwriters such as Graham Kendrick, Stuart Townend, and Tim Hughes.
Lift Up Your Voices; Lift Up Your Hearts, an RSCM and Church Times webinar featuring a Q&A with One License, will take place on 17 May. Sessions will explore the retention challenge for choirs and The Revised English Hymnal.