Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Wit of the Irish Methodist - C.H. Kelly. Hymns and their alterations.

Charles H. Kelly was a Methodist minister in the 19th century. He was twice president of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, but more importantly, he was the Book-Steward of the Wesleyan Church, in other words, head of the denominational publishing office. His Memories (London, Robert Culley, 1910), is full of wonderful anecdotes. God willing, I hope to present some of them here.
Kelly was a member of the committee that revised John Wesley's hymn-book in the 1870s. He gives one story that might have some point today as well:

In the committee of the 1877 book one prominent minister not only opposed the exclusion of any of Charles Wesley's hymns that had found place in the previous edition, but also almost every verbal alteration that was suggested. There was a peculiar incident. The word 'bowels' often appeared. When one verse was read, perhaps the youngest member said, "Bowels again! We can at least change here for 'mercies.'" Said the old warrior somewhat scornfully: 'We are so fine now, I suppose we are not to be allowed to have bowels!" The reply was sharp. "I have no objection against Dr. ------ having bowels, but a very strong one against them protruding." The word was altered.
C.H. Kelly, Memories (London, Robert Culley, 1910)


Jonathan Hunt said...

Excellent. I enjoyed this anecdote on Sunday and now it is shared for the wider world!

Highland Host said...

WEll, I said I'd post it!

William Wilson said...

Dear Gervase Good Artcle. So tell me where did C.H.Kelly come from in Ireland.So when are you going to put things on about C.H.Kelly. So do email me and let me know when i can come down to south wales and vist you before your time is up.Let me know please.

Highland Host said...

Kelly actually came from Manchester, but from an Irish family who had come to Manchester for work.