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

We thought you might be interested in how Abide With Me: A Photographic Journey Through Great British Hymns go started, so I’ll talk about the chronology a little over the next few weeks.

Paul Seawright and I met in Wales. In 2002 I was in the Cotswolds in England working on a manuscript on religious values in Shakespeare’s plays (that’s finished and available if you’d like to read a chapter), and I drove to Newport, Wales, to go to church each Sunday. I met Paul there and learned he was an international photographer. Never miss an opportunity. I started dreaming of projects I might talk him into. One was photographing scenes mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays, which I’d still like to do.

But eventually in 2006 we settled on the sites of great British hymns. In part this was possible because Jerry Rushford, church historian at Pepperdine University in Malibu, was very knowledgeable about these and led tours there. He very generously gave us a copy of his itinerary for investigative tour several years before. It proved to be extraordinarily helpful, and we were set.

Jill [my wife] and I taught in Lipscomb University’s Study Abroad program the summer of 2006. We planned to spend a week at the close of the term traveling with Paul.  First, though, we thought we’d look around London for future photographic ventures. About the first site we tried was the Moravian Cemetery at Fetter Lane Memorial Church. The church was supposed to be open 3:00-4:00 Sunday afternoon. We finally found it, but not while it was open. But the minister’s name and phone number were on a sign outside, so I called him. I may have interrupted his football game on TV, but he told me to knock on the gate to the back yard where the cemetery was, adjoining some apartments. Sure enough, we got in thanks to some people having a cookout. We wandered around the rather bleak yard. We were looking for the grave of William Hammond (1719-1783), who wrote “Lord, We Come Before Thee Now.” Never did find it, but we’d been there and got a shot of the cemetery.

Moral Victory.

More later.  John