Carpenter, Why Leave the Bench:
Fifty-Two Hymns from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John
By Richard Leach
Hymn text collection
Author Richard Leach
Released September 1995
Catalog no. 125-421 (Soft-cover, 60 pp.)
Price $9.00 (U.S.)
"The poet Richard Leach follows his previous collections, Over the Waves of Words and Feel the Spirit in the Kicking, with an equally colorful Carpenter, Why Leave the Bench? He has been called a recent "fresh voice" among contemporary hymn writers. His hymns often have compelling titles that draw one to consider the text, such as "When Eve was born of borrowed bone," one of many alliterations.
His approach to hymnody recognizes that most biblical topics have been explored, and rather than reorganize the same phrases, he writes with a vocabulary that seeks to awaken, present some new facet, or ask a penetrating question in each hymn.
His variety of meters open many possibilities for composers. "Brother Darkness / Sister Silence" (p. 17) will surely find both a folk-tune and an anthem setting. Sometimes he forsakes rhyme, or he employs it irregularly; one never gets the feeling that a phrase is rhyme-driven.
He frequently uses the same image in several hymns (e.g., net, and the character Lazarus). Also some similar themes run through many of the hymns, especially Jesus' saying "All things are possible with God." Leach approaches several seldom-explored topics, such as the psychology of the demoniac, the embarrassment of riches, and the need for a child-friendly world.
I remember occasionally thinking as I started scanning the initial verse of a few hymns, "This is a theological discussion rather than a hymn." But then I was caught unawares, in the best of homiletic methods, as he related the hymn to the worshiper, and the worshiper to God." The Hymn, January 1998
"I would beg the example of Richard Leach whose Gospel hymns transform the words and actions of human lives nad stories to become metaphors which speak beyond the individual situation:
O carpenter, why leave the bench
where wood yields to your art,
and take instead, to try your skill,
the stony human heart?"
Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, September 1998
Richard Leach's second collection of texts. Leach takes the Gospel stories we have heard many times and with a poet's ear gives us new insight into the scriptures. These hymns will challenge you, surprise you at times, and leave you with phrases and thoughts that will stay with you. 60 pages, soft-cover.
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