Turl, Margaret Emma
b Shrewsbury 1946. Stamford High Sch (Lincs) and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (MA English and Cert Ed). Born into a literary household, she loved poetry from childhood, and was converted aged 13 at a Scripture Union camp. She worked as VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) for two years in Ugandan ‘revival country’. Following this she married John and spent the next ten years (1971-81) in Ghana, afterwards returning to live in Waltham Abbey, Essex, where she and her family joined Goldings Hill Evangelical Free Ch, Loughton (1982–2002). She now attends the Abbey Church. While enjoying chanted Psalms as a student she longed for more congregationally accessible ways of singing them, and attributes her first desire to write ‘Bible oriented verse’ to a literary household, and Anglican services (St Ebbe’s Oxford) with readings and canticles. Her first metrical versions were written between 1983 and 1985, during which time she had paraphrased the entire Psalter. A few of these Psalm texts were printed with other verses in Treasures Old and New, 1989, followed by Time to Celebrate 1999, with suggested tunes from her husband John and friend Gill Berry, qv. Some of these are specially needed to accompany a number of unusual metres. Subsequently she has revised many of her original texts in the light of further comments and computer assisted discoveries, and has also added some new versions.
The monthly Evangelicals Now (see under Benton J) published her work occasionally from 1993; Praise! is the first hymnal to include her texts and one of these features in the 2004 edn of CH. Her sight began to deteriorate early; by the age of 13 she could read only with a strong magnifying glass, reading became increasingly difficult and slow, and by her mid 20s she was completely blind. This made her unaware of ‘the oustanding new hymns and Psalm versions which others were already producing, which could have inspired me but could well have put me off’. See her comments on some ‘blindness/sight’ hymns, with practical pastoral considerations, in ‘Singing without seeing’ in HSB234 (Jan 2003). In an earlier Bulletin review (no.225, Oct 2000), Basil E Bridge calls her hymns ‘thoroughly biblical…well – sometimes ingeniously – crafted…I am sure we shall be hearing more of Emma Turl in the future’. Her own choice of 15 of them appears in the collection of contemporary hymns, Emma now attends the abbey church in Waltham Abbey. More of her hymns can be found on the website of The Jubilate Group: www.jubilate.org
Come Celebrate (2009). Nos.53, 106, 107, 110, 119G, 123, 130, 168, 825.