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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versión impresa ISSN 1017-0499


BETHKE, Andrew-John. John William Colenso's Collection of Psalms and Hymns for St Peter's Cathedral, Pietermaritzburg: Context, Analysis and Christological Implications. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2021, vol.47, n.3, pp.1-36. ISSN 2412-4265.

In 1866, Bishop John William Colenso published a collection of hymns which he compiled for use at St Peter's Cathedral in Pietermaritzburg. He had recently returned to Natal from England after defending himself in the legal debates which surrounded his status as Bishop of Natal. His controversial commentaries on Romans and the Pentateuch had been the catalyst of his denouncement by his metropolitan bishop, Robert Gray. While Colenso had been in England, Gray had visited the Diocese of Natal. While there, he introduced the recently published Hymns Ancient and Modern to parish churches. Colenso was a strong critic of Hymns Ancient and Modern, mainly on account of its ritualist tendencies, and he was annoyed to find that Gray had introduced the book in his absence. In response, he created a collection of hymns, a number of which he edited in order to conform to his evolving Christology. The collection sparked something of a media frenzy both in Natal and Britain, so much so that it was still being discussed four years after Colenso's death. This article provides the historical context of the collection and its subsequent revisions; an analysis of its contents, paying special attention to hymns that were modified in some way; and a critique of the letters and reviews the collection received in the press. The article suggests that Colenso's notoriety ensured that the collection received far more attention than it warranted. In essence, it served as a proxy battle ground for deeper concerns about the impact of biblical criticism on Christology.

Palabras clave : Colenso; Anglican hymnody; Christology; Colonial Anglicanism; hymns ancient and modern.

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