O for a Thousand Tongues: Hymnbooks from the Colin Gibson Collection

Added on June 3rd, 2009

We are pleased to reproduce this item from the Dunedin Public Libraries website. Emeritus Professor Colin Gibson is a member of Mornington Methodist Church, and a long serving Organist and Choir Director there.


The Dunedin Public Libraries are proud to dedicate the latest Reed Gallery exhibition to Emeritus Professor Colin Gibson.

For over twenty years Professor Gibson has generously donated works relating to the field of hymnology to the Libraries. From double-digit, humble beginnings the collection has grown to more than 2,200 volumes and continues to increase in size and scope.

Colin Gibson. Singing Love: New Hymns, Songs and Carols for Today's Church. Auckland: Collins Liturgical, 1998.
New Zealand hymns and hymn writers form the core of the exhibition. The earliest of the New Zealand materials is The Tune Book for the New Zealand Hymnal, which was printed in Auckland in 1866.

An item on display that will no doubt be familiar to some of our older library patrons is The New Zealand Radio Hymn Book, published by AH & AW Reed during the 1960s. This was intended as a companion for listeners to radio broadcasts and, unlike many standard hymn books of the day, included some translations into Maori of English hymns.

Modern New Zealand publications on exhibit include Alleluia Aotearoa (1993), the first major New Zealand hymnbook to signal the country's developing sense of identity, and Faith Forever Singing (2000), which includes hymns and poems by New Zealand authors and composers such as Bill Bennett, and Jillian Bray.

Individual works by noted New Zealand hymn writers Shirley Erena Murray and Rev. Bill Wallace are also on display, as well as books by Vernon Griffith and Professor Gibson.

The exhibition also features hymns from a variety of denominations, and hymnbooks in a number of languages such as Finnish, Irish, Welsh, Samoan, Tagalog (Philippines) and Tongan, to name a few. Two hymnbooks in Maori are on exhibit, the earliest of which was printed in 1890. In addition to books, archival material relating to the activities of the New Zealand Hymn Book Trust and Contemporary Hymns (NZ) Ltd is included.

Souvenir Programme of Music used by the Peace Celebrations Choir. Dunedin: Whitcombe & Tombs Limited, 1919.
Original letters by John and Charles Wesley, drawn from the Reed Special Collections, and an early edition of 'God Defend New Zealand', from the McNab New Zealand Collection, help to round out an exhibition which displays something of the rich heritage of religious and musical resources available to readers and researchers at the Dunedin Public Libraries.

Colin Gibson is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Otago. He has been writing and publishing hymns since 1972, and was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music and education in 2002.

The Reed Gallery exhibition runs through to 26 July and is free and open to the public.

Curated by Anthony Tedeschi

'O for a Thousand Tongues: Hymnbooks from the Colin Gibson Collection'
Until 26 July 2009
Monday - Friday 9.30am - 8.00pm
Saturday & Sunday 11.00am - 4.00pm
Reed Gallery, Floor 3
Dunedin City Library

Reprinted with permission from Dunedin Public Libraries http://www.dunedinlibraries.com/