Gaunt, Alan


b Manchester 1935. Silcoates Sch, Lancashire Independent Coll, and Manchester Univ. He was ordained to the Congregational ministry 1958, later the United Reformed Church; his 42 years of pastoral ministry began at Clitheroe, Lancs, continued in Sunderland, Heswall and Manchester, and concluded at Windermere. He retired to Little Neston on the Wirral, Cheshire, in 2000, where he continues to serve in local churches. He compiled New Prayers for Worship, started in loose-leaf in 1972, and a 2-year cycle Prayers for the Christian Year. His hymnwriting began in 1962 and he shared in the ground-breaking groups meeting in Dunblane in the mid-1960s. Around that time Erik Routley urged him to ‘cultivate a ruthless precision in the use of words’; a phrase which, says AG, ‘has stayed with me and influenced all my writing…and all my preaching, ever since.’ Following a home made collection of 46 Hymn Texts and Translations in 1988, his main work is published in The Hymn texts of Alan Gaunt, 1991; Always from Joy, 1997 (the year he received an Hon MA from Manchester Univ for his work as hymnwriter and translator); and Delight that Never Dies, 2003. A volume of his poems, The Space Between, appeared in 2009.
Translations include versions of Gk, Lat, German, French and Scandinavian hymns, and notably from the Welsh of Ann Griffiths. Rejoice and Sing (1991) has 18 of his texts; Common Praise 2000) has 4 and Sing Praise (2010) 8, while the Canadian Common Praise (1998) has 10. He has composed and published tunes for some of them. He writes, ‘A friend pointed out to me that most of my hymn texts ended with praise; this is how it ought to be…How can we ever see victory in the resurrection of Christ, unless we believe that the real victory of God is in the stark tragedy of the cross? Gethsemane is the true source of Christian joy! Calvary is where praise begins!’ An active member of and occasional speaker to the Hymn Soc for many years, he was its Executive President from 2002 to 2008; in HSB 249 (Oct 2006) he looked back over the society’s history ‘Seventy Years On’. In Come Celebrate (2009) his self-selected share of less-known texts is 15. Writing in the 2005 edn of A Panorama of Christian Hymnody, which includes 7 of his original texts and 2 translations, Paul A Richardson speaks of ‘the tender intimacy of his finest work’. Nos.393, 831, 946.