[Today’s post is by John H. Parker, co-author of the newly released book, Abide With Me, published by New Leaf Press. This account is from the travels of John and his co-author/photographer, Paul Seawright.]

An abandoned factory by a now-clean stream is about as good a symbol of the former days of Hebden Bridge [England] as you’ll find, I suppose. It looks like something out of Dickens: monotonous rows of windows that were inserted, not for aesthetics, but for light enough for workers to do their equally monotonous jobs. This is Yorkshire, where the skies are gray and the moors are bleak and Emily Bronte wrote her morose Wuthering Heights.


Abandoned factory in Hebden Bridge

Fortunately, I guess, the artists came over the last decade or two, so now this factory town is something of an art haven. Up the hill is Wainsgate Church, where John Fawcett was the preacher when he wrote “Blest Be the Tie.” You probably know the story, and I’ll talk about that in another blog. But for now, let’s be aware that not all English hymns were written around green pastures dotted by sheep. It’s kind of bleak here, but a preacher came to bring hope and good news.