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In the Land of the Living

This is the season when children begin trooping back to the cathedral with their parents. Last week, their voices joined the voices of the choir, newly returned and marching down the nave, and the voices of all of us in the pews, singing Anglican hymns that make my heart beat wildly as if I'm riding a big wave to shore. The tunes are gorgeous - from Winchester New to American Gospel, from Duke Street to Mendelssohn and St. Columba. The British hymn writers, from Isaac Watts and John Newton to George Herbert and Christina Rossetti, and dozens whose names I cannot recall, have a softly blazing message. Not for them Matthew Arnold's sea of faith with its "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar". They are alive to all the promise in the words of the psalmist - "I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living".