Beer & Hymns started life at Greenbelt Festival in 2006. Led by Tim ‘the stout but not fat Landlord’ Fox, with Dave ‘Monkey Boy’ Ball on the piano, and ‘Adorable’ Hannah assisting on the mic, festival goers were invited to raise their pints and sing some hymns. The rest is history.
As trustees of Othona, Dave and Tim used to take groups of young homeless people: families, staff and volunteers from their local YMCA for weekend retreats.
One evening over a beer, after running out of Beatles songs, they started singing classic hymns and discovered that people of all ages, creeds, colours and beliefs enjoyed immensely the singing of the great old Wesley tunes and the majestic words that went with them.
“From the word go, from the very first Beer & Hymns, we knew what it was we were trying to do.”
Some years later, Tim was asked if he would consider running the Organic Beer Tent at Greenbelt, and determined the drinking of beer and singing of hymns would be a great addition to the life of the pub, now universally known as The Jesus Arms.
On the first evening, with just a small piano, no hymn sheets and the first few bars of “And can it be” they were joined by over five hundred people: singing their hearts out and raising glasses in the hostelry. On that day Beer & Hymns was truly born.
Without the unique space and atmosphere that is Greenbelt, and without the special home that is the Jesus Arms, Beer & Hymns would not have become what it is today.
In fact, Beer & Hymns has become a regular in churches programmes across the UK and the world, often used as a way to authentically connect communities and share communion. Something that started as an evening in a small Christian community, which was nourished and nurtured at Greenbelt Festival, has now become part of the language and worship of millions of people worldwide. Not to mention appeared on an official Greenbelt t-shirt!
In addition to these events, there have been numerous articles, theological studies and blogs written about people’s experience of Beer & Hymns. It is clear that Beer & Hymns has touched the lives of many people and continues to be embraced by many more.
Listen to Dave and Tim being interviewed back in 2013 for the BBC Radio 2 programme, the Sunday Hour.