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Feel the Spirit in the Kicking:
Forty Hymns for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost
By Richard Leach

Hymn text collection

Author Richard Leach
Released September 1995
Catalog no. 125-406 (Soft-cover, 48 pp.)
Price $7.00 (U.S.)

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"Richard Leach, a minister of the United Church of Christ in Connecticut, has produced a wealth of devotional material in this 48-page booklet. With 'grace of poet's pen' he succeeds in expressing mighty scriptural truths with fresh diction and in a readable style. He expresses gratitude to Brian Wren for critiques and sound advice, these benefits showing from time to time when the originality of the poet is enhanced by the Wren style.
     These forty pieces following the Christian Year offer spiritual insights, sometimes as imaginative musings on scriptural texts, sometimes with prophetic imagination, and always with reflective wisdom and crispness of expression.
     The Advent section contains several commendable pieces including 'Hope is a candle' which will be helpful in these days when churches of all denominations use Advent candles. This hymn associates the candle flame with hope, peace, love, joy, and Christ's coming. The ministry of John the Baptist is focues in several of the hymns, though it must be said that these are meritorious devotional poems rather than congregational hymns. For example:
     Though shut within this prison cell [etc.]
If a reader or soloist were to recite or sing such words to a congregation the message would be communicated more powerfully than by congregational singing.
     Ministers and musicians know that there is no shortage of Christmas material and so anything new needs a degree of excellence to gain the notice of leaders of worshipo. 'I met an angel' is well worth noticing and using since it covers Advent in v. 1, the Presentation in v.2, the accusation of madness in v.3, the Crucifixion in v.4, and the Resurrection in v.5. This is a pattern that the author often follows as he traces the narrative and doctrine from Advent to Easter in one hymn.
     Imaginative writing is also seen in 'Is a murmuring dove nearby?' in which a dove at the manger stirs thoughts of Christ's Baptism, a donkey at Bethlehem brings to mind Palm Sunday, the evening shadows at the birthplace foretell the darkness of Calvary, and the morning sun prefigures Easter.
     Lenten hymns include one for the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday andthe washing of feet on Maundy Thursday, one about the anointing, and one, 'Carpenter upon the Cross,' which will be very useful for a 'Seven Words' service at the point of 'It is finished.'
     In the Easter and Pentecost section there is a useful and moving hymn based on Revelation 7: 'The Lamb will be a Shepherd now,' and a calling on the Holy Spirit 'Dove to flesh still dripping water' to come to worshippers as dove and fire at Baptism and at Pentecost.
     The cover of this slender booklet tells us that these hymns show the author's pastoral sensitivity, imagination, and fresh thinking that will help Christians experience the seasons in a new way. This is no exaggeration, for imaginative scenery and creative thinking are woven into biblical truth, but the author needs to be on his guard lest his creative and poetic skill take his work beyond the scope of hymn-book users.
     We are told that two further volumes are in the press, one of hymns based on the Gospels, and the other a collection of paraphrases of Psalms and other scripture passages. Our appetite whetted, we eagerly await the publication of these works."-HSGBI Bulletin, January 1996

"Feel the Spirit in the Kickingis a collection of hymns for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Leach begins the Introduction by raising the question, 'Why more hymns?' and answering the question by saying, 'There is no need for 'new' ones that simply recombine phrases from old ones.' In doing so, he sets himself up for criticism, if indeed thexts which follow are not 'new.' Luckily for him, many of the texts in this collection do tell the story of the gospel in a different, fresh way.
     "Feel the Spirit in the Kicking' is an example of a text giving us something new by telling us that 'God has turned things upside down.' 'Kings are sleeping' is an outstanding look at kings who sleep and dream while history is changing right in front of their noses. 'When Pilate Questioned Jesus' is a well-done attempt at answering Pilate's question, "What is turth?' alothough I kept waiting to hear Pilate's ironic sign on the cross, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,' but it never appeared in the text.
     I am glad to see the work of this obviously talented hymn writer and won't be surprised to see some of these texts in future hymnals. Speaking of hymns in hymnals, why weren't his two finest texts, 'An Outcast Among Outcasts,' and 'A Woman Came,' both of which appear in The New Century Hymnal, included in this collection? These are too good to miss.
     I will say that 'When Broken Is Normal' is very confusing, especially in the first two lines; line one referring to 'when broken is normal' and in the very next line, 'where wholeness is normal.' Read it for yourself-maybe it's just me.
     'Round the Manger See Them Gather' is an outstanding text. I'm guessing that Amanda Husberg's tune is well done, too, but we don't know-it wasn't included.
     This hymn collection is a toughtful, well-crafted collection of texts worth reading and singing, by Richard Leach. By the way, who is Richard Leach? The book never says." ­The Hymn, July 1996

This is Richard Leach's first collection, though his texts have already appeared in The Hymn, The New Century Hymnal, and elsewhere, testifying to his appreciable skill. These hymns for the church year show Leach's pastoral sensitivity, imagination, and fresh thinking that will help Christians experience the seasons in a new way. 48 pages, soft-cover.

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