Townend, Stuart

Author & Composer

b Edinburgh 1963, the son of a pastor who became a CofE vicar from 1970–85. He learned the piano from the age of 7, playing in church from 9 or 10, and family moves took him to Morley nr Leeds, Kirkheaton (Huddersfield) and Sowerby Bridge nr Halifax, where at 13 he made a Christian commitment. He attended Sowerby Bridge Grammar School (later, High Sch); then the Univ of Sussex at Brighton to study American Literature. He wrote songs ‘from time to time as I was growing up’, occasionally performing them with his brothers and moving from keyboard to guitar, then back to piano. He worked with Kingsway music at Eastbourne, and the first ‘serious’ songwriting came in 1990 with ‘Lord, how majestic you are’. He became known to many through the Stoneleigh (nr Coventry) International Bible Week. He is involved in Christian music leadership at the Church of Christ the King, Brighton, Sussex (formerly Clarendon, in the ‘New Frontiers’ group) which he had attended as a student, now including ‘travelling worship leaders and songwriters’. His hymn In Christ alone, with Keith Getty’s music, is the title track of a 2004 album; he has made several more including ‘Monument to mercy’ (2006), and has led ‘Mandate’ since 2003. In writing and composing, his ‘main aim is that it has to be accessible to a congregation’—ST; he believes that to be ‘driven’ by the need for a full rhyme can be a distraction. With Keith Getty (and in the spirit of Mrs Alexander, qv) he is working on a series of songs to illustrate the clauses of the Apostles’ Creed. Other interests include sport, Indian food and ‘working with words’; recent concerts in many towns have featured songs from ‘outside the worship box…for Christians and unchurched alike to enjoy’. At the Easter ‘Prom Praise’ in 2007 he said, interestingly, that he aimed ‘to put content back into our worship songs’. Two of his hymns are included in the Scottish Church Hymnary 4th edn, but (like Praise!) that book just missed out on In Christ alone. The 2004 edn of CH has 7 of his; Sing Praise (2010) has 8. Nos.426, 427, 724.