One of the most colourful and influential Anglican figures of the last century, is best remembered for two outstanding achievements’. His seminal work, The Parson’s Handbook, which ran to thirteen editions, shaped a distinctive style of Anglican worship – ‘not too high and not too low’ – still recognisable in thousands of parishes today.
Secondly, an instinct for dignity in worship was matched by a desire for beauty in music and his brainchild, The English Hymnal, to which Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Hoist contributed, caused nothing less than a revolution in parish music and gave the Church some of its finest tunes.
Yet these accomplishments are not Dearmer’s only legacy to the English Church. His support of the ordination of women, his efforts to make the ministry of healing normal pastoral practice and his ardent Christian socialism, on daring at the time, may have impeded his career, but his breadth of wisdom and his willingness to speak out have an extraordinary relevance today. A century later, with the Church still seeking to bring colour and inspiration to its worship, to affirm the ministry of both men and women, to minister to bodies as well as minds and spirits and to challenge those who believe that Christianity is about personal morality and has nothing to offer the needs of society as a whole, this authorised biography enables Dearmer’s original and prophetic voice to be heard afresh.
Canterbury Press, 2011. Softcover, 234 pp.