Hymn singing marathon completed in Swaffham

Hymnathon at Swaffham's Methodist Church. Picture: Ian Burt

Hymnathon at Swaffham's Methodist Church. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A congregation breathed a collective sigh of relief before celebrating a remarkable achievement completed on a chilly morning in the middle of Norfolk.

From All Things Bright and Beautiful to O Come, All Ye Faithful all 748 hymns from the methodist hymnbook were sung at Swaffham Methodist Church throughout lent.

The hymn-singing marathon began on Ash Wednesday, February 10, and finished on Saturday morning.

It was held to raise money for renovations to the church and a new roof.

Every day, except on Sundays, singers and musicians have joined to go through 21 to 22 numbers in an hour.

In total, 792 hymns and tunes, containing 1,652 verses, were sung, as several hymns come with more than one tune.

People sponsored their favourite hymn and donated while listening to the hymns being performed.

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Clarinetist Geraldine Allen helped to organise the hymnathon, a phrase they believe they have coined, along with fellow musician Sarah Rodgers.

She said: 'It has been a huge project which was inspired by trying to get together some funding because we are taking the pews out of the church to make it a much better space for the church and community.

'It is a lovely Georgian chapel but filled with Victorian pews, and we need to replace the roof as well which will cost £300,000.

'We were hoping to raise £3,000 and I am delighted to say we have already topped that.'

While the challenge has been taking place members of surrounding churches and passing visitors have come to join in and listen to the songs.

It is estimated that around 600 singers took part throughout the Hymnathon, coming from churches in Beetley, Dereham, Fulmodesten, Great Ellingham, Gressenhall, Hingham, Litcham, Sporle, Thetford, Thursford, Toftwood, Watton and Wendling.

Twenty two musicians have been involved including seven organists, 10 pianists, three guitarists, one flute player and one clarinet player.

One guitarist prepared 21 backing tracks for his session which took him 150 hours to create.

Minister, reverend Eleanor Reddington, said: 'Raising all of this money has been wonderful, but what has been achieved has been even greater than that.

'We have opened the church open to the community, kept the church open every day and seen some people who wouldn't usually come here feel welcome here.

'People have opened up and connected with one another in a really special way.'

Donations can still be made at http://www.impulse-music.co.uk/swaffhammethodistchurch/hymnathon/

Have you done something unusual to raise money? Write to adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

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