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Psalmist of praise and protest

STREET children from Africa, South America, India and Europe playing football in a Durban area last March; it’s the Deloitte Street Child World Cup, and it shows off the human potential of children failed by every social and political system. Durban itself has 2,000 street children; the Umthombo organisation, founded five years ago, helps keep them safe and fed. Read more…

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’30’ album notes

Garth’s first album, “The Lion And The Lamb”, was recorded in 1972 at Air Studios, London with producer Pete Bye.  Released in’73, “The Lion And The Lamb” was succeeded the following year by “I Never Knew Life Was In Full Technicolor ‘Till I Saw It On The Silver Screen”, produced by Tony Hooper from The Strawbs.  “Love Song For The Earth”, released in 1976, was produced by Bryn Haworth.  Bryn’s style of playing, on slide guitar, mandolin and backing vocals, complemented Garth’s style, and although this is the only album Bryn produced for Garth, he appears on many of his other albums. I took the photos and designed this album.   It was the first of Garth’s albums to be released in the States, but unfortunately the American record company said that his picture wasn’t suitable because “Christians smile and shave” – we had to have another photo session to get Garth looking suitably Christian! Read more…

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Garth’s talk at 25th anniversary of Amos Trust

Amos the journey – where we have come from 

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Sermon, St George’s College, May 20 2010

The first event I did this year – in the New Year was at the headquarters of the Dalit Solidarity Network in Delhi in India. I sang and I spoke under a portrait of Dr B R Ambedkar.

Ambedkar was a most significant player in Indian politics; a Dalit who rose up to become the chair of those who put together the Indian Constitution.

On Christmas Eve I had stood at a Buddhist meditative centre dedicated to Ambedkar right opposite the Taj Mahal – over the Yamuna river.

On the wall outside were the words that Ambedkar wrote to explain his reasons for conversion from Hinduism to Buddhism.   It is couched in the shape of twenty-two oaths that he took, and he starts off by saying:
Read more…

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The Chartists

Dr Mike Sanders with the National Chartist Hymnbook of 1845

Dr Mike Sanders with the National Chartist Hymnbook of 1845

A talk by Dr Mike Sanders, University of Manchester

at the launch of Liberty is Near!

the album of Chartist hymns put to music by Garth Hewitt

Greenbelt 2013

 

The following talk, given in three parts, was interspersed with performances of the Chartist hymns listed.

 

1) Hark, I Hear

2) Great God!

 

Part One

The song, or rather hymn, you have just heard – ‘Great God is this the patriot’s doom?’ – was written by the Leicester Chartist, John Henry Bramwich, for the funeral service of Samuel Holberry – an early Chartist martyr.  At that funeral it was sung to the tune of the ‘Old Hundredth’ by Chartists who carried banners proclaiming “The Lord hateth the hands that shed innocent blood” and “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”  It was reprinted in The National Chartist Hymn Book, wtw.wtw_web_pkg.download_photowhich is (as far as we know) the only surviving Chartist hymnal and which forms the basis for Garth’s latest album Liberty is Near!

But back to Samuel Holberry born in 1814 into a family of agricultural labourers.  The youngest of nine children, he began his working life as an agricultural labourer before enlisting in the army aged 17.  After four years service he left the army and moved to Sheffield where he worked as a cooper and then as a distiller.  In October 1838 he married Mary and also became active in the Chartist movement.  In the early hours of January 12th 1840 he was arrested as the leader of a planned uprising in Sheffield and subsequently sentenced to four years imprisonment in Northallerton prison – notorious as one of the harshest prisons in the country.  While in prison, his young son (also called Samuel) died (a mere 18 weeks old), and he himself contracted tuberculosis.  As a result of his illness, Holberry was moved to York Castle where he died, aged 27, on June 21st, 1842.  His wife,  Mary, had seen him once during his imprisonment.

The constable who arrested Holberry asked him “Surely you would not take a life?”  To which Holberry replied, “But I would in defence of liberty and the charter.  Mind, I am no thief or robber, but I will fight for the charter and will not rest until we have got it…”.  Holberry had taken up arms in the name of Chartism and died an unrepentant Chartist.  This prompts two questions – what was Chartism and why did it inspire such commitment in its followers?

The first question – what was Chartism – is deceptively easy to answer.  Chartism (as Wikipedia tells us) “was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain between 1838 and 1848 which took its name from the People’s Charter of 1838.” The People’s Charter called for six reforms to make the political system more democratic:

  1. A vote for every man over the age of 21;
  2. A secret ballot;
  3. No property qualification for members of Parliament;
  4. Payment for MPs (so poor men could serve);
  5. Constituencies of equal size;
  6. Annual elections for Parliament.

In the 1830s and 1840s, most politicians, most intellectuals and most clergymen fiercely denounced these demands, arguing that if enacted they would bring about the collapse of civilisation. Read more…

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Northmoor News, UK, May 2012

people Garth has befriended over the years and who have been able to share their struggles with people in the West through the songs Garth sings. His album titles read like a gazetteer of his musical ministry: Bethlehem, Gaza, Palestine, The Dalit Drum and a series of albums called Journeys: Journeys Africa, Journeys Holy Land, Journeys Asia and Journeys Latin America.

 

Sir Cliff Richard, who sang Garth’s song ‘A World of Difference’ at Live Aid, said, Read more…

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‘I remember when I was a kid seeing Garth Hewitt on stage. He was banging on about Christians having a heart for the poor and saving the world and frankly I didn’t get any of it. Garth has always been ahead of his time and we are all catching up with what God has been saying through Garth for the last 30 years. I wish I had listened closer, but it sometimes takes a lifetime to recognise a true prophet. It is people like Garth who make us look at the world differently and realise what it is to be a true Christian.’

 

– Martin Smith (Delirious?)