Talk:Reginald Heber

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Featured article Reginald Heber is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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July 31, 2012 Peer review Reviewed
August 12, 2012 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article

Expansion and reorganisation[edit]

I am about to begin work on a substantial expansion and reorganisation of this article, to create a biography fitting for someone who was an important figure in the early 19th century Anglican church, and made a lasting impression as a hymn writer. His short term as Bishop of Calcutta will be discussed in the perspective of his whole career. I am going to remove the overdetailed template which completely dominates the article at present, and will replace it with a more modest link to the Christianity in India article. Brianboulton (talk) 20:06, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Bishop Heber High School[edit]

Bishop Heber High School in Malpas appears to be named for him. Perhaps it could be mentioned under legacy? Espresso Addict (talk) 17:08, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

On "Greenland's Icy Mountains"[edit]

I've rewritten the hymn section a bit, but it needs a little further work. "From Greenland's Icy Mountain" was swept up in a general disdain for that sort of missionary hymn, and can only serve as an example of a hymn that has fallen out of fashion rather than as an epitome of his whole oeuvre. I must also point out that the Betjeman work cited is an anthology of radio address transcripts; the addresses themselves were (I gather) delivered in the early 1980s or possibly earlier, so he's not a proper authority on the usage of these hymns in this century. "Holy, Holy, Holy" is of course one of the most widely sung of all hymns; some of his others (e.g. "Star in the East") are also quite widely used. Like most 19th century English hymnists he hit a few out of the park and wrote a lot that are not to modern taste for many reasons. The paragraph needs to end on a higher note than that of Gandhi's Hindu-colored rejection of one text. Mangoe (talk) 13:24, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

You are right to point out that since Betjeman died in 1985, he should not be cited as an authority on the popularity or otherwise of 21st century hymns. However, your comment that Gandhi's rejection of From Greenland's Icy Mountains was "Hindu-coloured" is objectionable and unworthy. Gandhi was speaking for humanity, not Hinduism. The hymn does indeed epitomise attitudes which were still pretty much in vogue when Ghandhi spoke, 100 years after Heber's death, but have thankfully largely disappeared now. Gandhi's rebuke should not be watered down by additional praise of Holy, Holy, Holy, the status of which is already fully recognised in the article. Brianboulton (talk) 19:34, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Gandhi had no license to speak for that very large portion of humanity which even in that day professed the Christian faith. I have looked at the paragraph in which the reference is made, and surely even today the greater part of Christendom would say, "all very well to call yourself a seeker, but the gods of Hinduism are false and the idols of Hinduism are of no avail." And let us not even think of Islam. Missionary fervor in western Christianity has largely faded, to be sure, but it's hardly the case that there is universal agreement that this is a good thing. It's undue emphasis to spend most of the section on a single hymn when, surveys show, most of his texts are still in use. Mangoe (talk) 01:54, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
One does not need a licence to speak for humanity against oppressive ideologies, be they religious or political. Nor should you assume that your Calvinist beliefs equate with "the greater part of Christendom". I don't blame Heber for his presumptions; he was of his time. But a century later, his worldview was becoming less acceptable, and Gandhi's soft reproof was timely – though to not much immediate effect, as I remember singing the same hymn in school and church half a century after Gandhi's words. This article maintains neutrality, and does not assess Heber from a 21st century perspective; the discussion on From Greenland's Icy Mountains, far from being undue emphasis, is pretty well the only corrective to remind us that times have changed. Your added statement that most of Heber's 57 hymns are still in use, referenced to a Calvinist website, is highly dubious. The Dictionary of North American Hymnology is not a mainstream hymnal, and the statement needs better sourcing before it is presented as fact. Brianboulton (talk) 10:49, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
It's not a hymnal at all; it's an inventory of hymnal texts and tunes. If you look at their data on text usage there are some six/seven or so texts which are widely represented in some hundred or so hymnals, with the two versions of "Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning" taking a close second. "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" would be third, IIRC; "Father, We Thank Thee Who Hast Planted" is also widely found. The best data, I suppose, would be a survey of church bulletins, but the fact that the hymn still widely appears in hymnals indicates a lack of consensus.
Anyway, Gandhi's remarks were not universally well-received even in his own country; Christians there and even some of his fellow Hindus insisted on proselytism as a basic human right. The notion that missionary work represents imperialism is widely rejected. Perhaps there is room for some adjustment on the current use of his hymns, but I don't think there are great problems with the paragraph as it stands. And I say this as someone who isn't a great fan of Heber's hymns; but it isn't my taste that's determinative here. Mangoe (talk) 14:48, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

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