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.30C, 53, 84A, 106, 107, 110, 119G, 123, 130, 168, 825, 1011, 1014, 1034, 1038, 1041, 1045, 1053, 1054, 1058, 1059, 1062, 1063, 1069, 1087, 1088, 1089, 1091, 1092, 1096, 1101, 1103, 1107, 1108, 1110, 1134, 1137, 1195, 1213, 1216, 1239, 1246.

Hymns and songs by Turl, Margaret Emma

Number Hymn Name
CP66 When you think what you were told
CP17 God has spoken by His servants
30C O my Lord, I will exalt you
53 The fool has said within his heart
84A How delightful is your dwelling
106 Praise the Lord! give thanks for ever
107 Give thanks to God, for he is good, his love will never end
110 The Lord said to my Lord, ‘sit here’
119G Your word’s a lamp to guide my footsteps
123 Up to you I lift my eyes
130 From the depths of shame and sorrow
168 Almighty God, whose name is great
825 From a life of weariness
1011 God has spoken by his servants
1014 Praise the Lord! Give him the glory!
1034 Up to the hills I lift my eyes
1038 Where you sit in kingly glory
1041 Forsaken, did you cry aloud?
1045 Praise the Lord, all you nations
1053 Our refuge and our strength is God
1054 Raise a shout of joyous triumph
1058 When you secured our freedom, Lord
1059 How long, O Lord, will you forget
1062 Come with thanksgiving – harvest is here
1063 Out on the hills
1069 Have mercy, O my God
1087 May God be gracious
1088 See the Father’s love made known
1089 To you, O Lord, I lift my soul
1091 The Saviour comes
1092 O Christ, you are the builder
1093 The wonders of the skies above
1096 We come to you, our gracious, holy King
1101 Church of Jesus, church expressing
1103 Lord, you enjoyed a sabbath rest
1107 Christ is my Shepherd-King
1108 Hallelujah, hallelujah!
1110 Shelter me from the wind
1134 A voice of love is calling
1137 Lord, with all my heart I thank you
1195 I have a light to guide me
1213 Come see Mount Sinai
1216 When you think what you were told
1239 Father, you know the way
1246 Where he reigns in holy light