Leyland church minister sings entire hymn book of 748 songs to raise money for the Indian Covid effort

A Minister has hit the right note for fundraising - by taking on a mammoth challenge to sing the entire hymn book.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 20th August 2021, 10:20 am

Rev Phil Gough, Superintendent Minister of The Chorley and Leyland Methodist Circuit, decided to put a plan into action after hearing how churches in India were struggling in their efforts to help people suffering from Covid-19.

He said: "We have a link with churches in India and they have been telling us how badly they're been affected by Covid and that they have very, very little in the way of medical provisions.

"Imagine having to cope with Covid with no doctor and no hospital. The churches are trying to help as best as they can, and they are trying to get ventilators into churches."

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Rev Phil Gough at home

Rev Gough, who lives in Leyland, decided to raise £600 - enough to pay for one ventilator, by taking on the 'Singing the Faith' challenge, which saw him belt out 748 hymns from the Methodist hymn book Singing The Faith over Facebook Live.

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"It's come from somewhere very wild in my mind!", the 53-year-old said.

"I think maybe it's because we've not been able to sing (in church) for such a long time, that people have really enjoyed being able to do it again.

Teh hymn book Rev Gough sang his way through

"I've been doing it on Facebook Live and people have been joining in and messaging me as I do it, and that's been very encouraging.

"W've done an awful lot online in the last 18 months, a lot of bible groups on Facebook Live, and so it's become second nature.

"But it is a bit weird to be singing to yourself!"

Rev Gough completed the challenge over several days last week, in sessions of two to three hours at a time. In total, it's taken him between 24 and 25 hours.

"My voice has been okay, perhaps a little croaky towards the end", he said.

The Singing the Faith hymn book has the sheet music as well as words, and Rev Gough can sight read as he plays the guitar.

He said: "Some were accompanied with music, and some weren't. There were lots of songs I didn't know at all, so I've discovered new songs and hymns along the way that we can have a go at doing in church.

"A few times the tune was too difficult for me and it wouldn't have made pleasant listening, so I read those ones."

Rev Gough said his favourite hymn is Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.

He said: "It's a big hymn in Wales, and I'm half Welsh. We've had that at family funerals and I can hear big male, Welsh voices singing that.

"It's an emotional one, and a hymn of great faith - that even if life is tough, God is with you."

While the fundraising target was £600, the cost of a ventilator for one church, Rev Gough has more than doubled his target already, with the total currently stands at £1,400.

He said: "We've smashed the target and will be able to buy two ventilators now, for two different regions."