Routley, Erik Reginald
Arranger, Author & Composer
b Brighton, Sussex 1917, d Nashville, Tennessee, USA 1982. Lancing Coll, Sussex; Magdalen Coll and Mansfield Coll Oxford (BA, BD); ordained (Congregational Ch) 1943. He served churches in Staffordshire and Kent, returning to Mansfield Coll 1948–1959 as Ch History tutor, then chaplain, librarian and director of music. After pastoral ministry in Edinburgh and Newcastle 1959–1974 he moved to USA in 1975, with Church Music posts at Princeton (Theol Seminary, then Westminster Choir Coll). He served on the committee for Congregational Praise from 1944–51; as its Sec he wrote the music commentary for its 1953 Companion and (says Grove) ‘contributed greatly to its value’. He took a leading role in the formative Dunblane Consultations (1961–69), becoming a catalyst for the ‘hymn explosion’ seen in Dunblane Praises (1965, 1967). He edited many collections, among them the University Carol Book (1961), a revised Cantate Domino (1974 and 1980, including his paraphrases from prose translations of foreign-language texts), New Church Praise (1975), Ecumenical Praise (1977) and Rejoice in the Lord (published posthumously, 1985).
Routley worked, spoke and wrote tirelessly to promote hymnody; this included his first book The Church and Music, 1950 (later revised); I’ll Praise my Maker, 1951; Hymns and Human Life, 1952; Hymns and the Faith, 1955; Hymns Today and Tomorrow, 1964; A Panorama of Christian Hymnody, 1979, with accompanying recordings entitled Christian Hymns. A keen promoter of the Hymn Society of GB and Ireland, whose Bulletin he edited, and largely wrote, for many years. Speaking at its first post-war conference at Jordans (Bucks) in 1945, he urged the need for new hymns on social and national themes, on the life of Christ, and for children and young people. A jointly-edited memorial volume Duty and Delight: Routley Remembered, with an exhaustive bibliography, was published in 1985; the first phrase in that title was a favourite of his, echoing Anne Steele’s ‘and mix devotion with delight’. His collected texts and tunes appear in Our Lives be Praise, 1990. See also notes to A Gaunt, and the Composers’ index; other significant tunes include CHALFONT PARK for Eternal Light! Eternal Light and ABINGDON for And can it be. Text No.98B.