Iona Community


The Iona Community was founded by an inner city minister, George McLeod. Having its locale in the small remote island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, this ecumenical community of craftsmen and clergy is now scattered throughout the world. The main tenants of this group are world peace and justice for those members of society who are economically, racially, socially and religiously oppressed.

Within this general movement during the 1980's, a small group of hymn writers became active in producing songs which have an immediacy of appeal in both texts and tunes. Led by John Bell (b. 1949), minister of the Church of Scotland, along with Graham Maule (b. 1958), the group has produced three collections of 150 songs and other chants and responses which reflect a Celtic spirituality and a rugged honesty in a variety of popular folk styles. The titles of the collections, all produced by John Bell and Graham Maule with the Wild Goose Resource Group (the wild goose is a Celtic symbol of The Holy Spirit), and published in Glasgow by Wild Goose Publications are:

Heaven Shall Not Wait: Wild Goose Songs Vol. 1' (1987. 1989)
Enemy of Apathy, Wild Goose Songs Vol 2' (1988, 1989)
Love from Below' (1989).

More recently, in a search for openness and reciprocity in the use of indigenous devotional expressions from the world over, the Wild Goose Worship Group has issued two more collections of songs from Latin America, Africa, the Orient and other parts of the world:

Many and Great: Songs of the World Church Vol. 1 (Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications, 1990)

Sent by the Lord: Songs of the World Church Vol. 2' (1991)

The singing of these songs and hymns, coming mainly from oppressed peoples, is encouraged as both an instrument of solidarity and a means of intercession.

None of the hymns of Bell, Maule and other Iona Community members found a place in American hymnals until 1995 (see 'The Chalice Hymnal'), with the exception of those of Tom Colvin (b. 1925). He is a clergyman of the Church of Scotland and The United Reformed Church in Great Britain who served for many years as a missionary in Africa. Colvin encouraged the use of indigenous song by the folk among whom he ministered. As a member of the Iona Community, he collected and published privately these African hymns in two books:

Free to Serve (1968)
Leap, My Soul (1976)

Colvin's hymns became more widely known in 1983 with the publication in the United States of:

Fill Us with Your Love and Other Hymns from Africa (Agape, Carol Stream, IL).

Colvin's most recent collection is:

Come Let Us Walk This Road Together (Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL)

Some of Colvin's hymns found in current hymnals:

Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love (MH #432)
That Boy-child of Mary (MH # 241)

[From Sing with Understanding, by Harry Eskew and Hugh McElrath (Nashville: Church Street Press, 2nd edition, 1995.]


See Iona Community

See Wild Goose Resource Group

See Wild Goose Publications

Justice, Peace and Politics
Meditations and Reflections
Prayer and Worship
Song and Audio
Issues and Inspirations

See Coracle (a bi-monthly magazine)

See About the Iona Community

See Iona Community Worship

See Peace and Social Justice

See The Cause of the Poor and Exploited

See Racism and Inter-fath Matters

See Constitutional Issues

See Sharing of Communion (ecumenical issues)

See Rediscovery of Spirituality

See Work with Young People

See The Flight of the Wild Goose



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