Perry, Michael Arnold

Author & Composer

b Beckenham, Kent 1942, d Tonbridge, Kent 1996. Dulwich Coll, Oak Hill and Ridley Hall Theological Colls, London and Southampton Univs (BD, MTh). Ordained (CofE) 1965; after curacies at St Helen’s, Lancs and Bitterne, Southampton, he became incumbent of Bitterne (1972), Eversley, Hants (1981), where Charles Kingsley was a predecessor, and finally Tonbridge from 1989. A contributor to Youth Praise 2 in 1969, he was then an editorial team member for Psalm Praise (1973) and Hymns for Today’s Church (1982, 1987), Canon of Rochester, member of General Synod, Chairman of Church Pastoral Aid Society and (from 1982) succeeding Jim Seddon as Hon Sec of Jubilate Hymns. Under Jubilate auspices he edited a stream of hymn, song, carol and Psalm and prayer books, in collaboration with David Iliff, David Peacock, Noël Tredinnick, Norman Warren and others. He edited The Dramatized Bible (1989), compiled the reference-handbook Preparing for Worship (1995), and wrote and spoke widely on many aspects of worship, in the UK and on visits to W Africa and N America. Over all, he possessed the gift of being able to handle vast amounts of work with a light touch and ready (but never unkind) humour. His 183 texts were collected in Singing to God: Hymns and Songs 1965–1995, a slightly Americanised volume, in the year before his early death from a brain tumour. His first published song (words and music) was ‘The Calypso Carol’ in 1963; see no.374, note. Including paraphrases, 40 of his texts are in HTC (1987 edn), 8 in Baptist Praise and Worship (1991), 18 in Sing Glory (1999), 8 in the N American Worship and Rejoice (2001), 15 in Carols for Today (2005) and 27 in Carol Praise (2006), not counting several versions attributed to ‘Word and Music’ which are predominantly his. For some 20 years he and Christopher Idle would exchange friendly mutual criticism of each other’s texts. MAP believed that ‘Our preparation for worship can only go so far. It is doomed if the Spirit of the Lord is not in it. On the other hand, God is sovereign; he can “take over” any kind of worship, provided that those who lead and those who participate are open to his grace’. He also consistently urged that ‘to be obscure is an indulgence we cannot allow ourselves’.

Tunes and arrangements by Perry, Michael Arnold

Tune Name
Calypso Carol