Shirley Murray – March 2020

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Shirley Murray – March 2020

Dear friends and colleagues
I advise the death of Shirley Murray on Saturday 25 January 2020.
Tributes to Shirley have been posted from around the world.
The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada wrote:
We were saddened to learn of the death [on Saturday 25th January] of New Zealand
hymn writer Shirley Erena Murray, FHS. She was one of the most prolific and
influential hymn text writers in the English speaking world, creating texts finely
attuned to the issues facing people of faith today. They have appeared in more than
100 collections worldwide and have been translated into several other languages.
She was brought up Methodist, but spent many years as a Presbyterian, serving with
her husband, the Very Reverend John Stewart Murray, a former Moderator of the
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, as he pastored St. Andrew’s on the Terrace,
Wellington, where many of her hymns were first sung.
An article in The Hymn (Autumn 2009) announcing that she had been named a Fellow
of the Hymn Society included this observation: “Despite her frustrations with the
Church, this writer remains committed to working on its behalf, and her positive,
ebullient nature dominates her work. Her hymns are ecumenical in their theology and
inclusive in their expression. They embody themes of justice, peace, human rights,
nurture, and the integrity of creation.”
Colin Gibson, who worked with Shirley on many hymns, wrote:
Our community has lost a brave bright soul, a distinctive prophetic voice and New Zealand’s
finest religious poet. Her work is known, admired, and sung throughout the Christian world.
Her hymns and songs will be her legacy for many years to come; her latest volume (published
by Hope) reached her a short time before her death.
In one of her poems, Shirley wrote:
Something beautiful for God,
in my seeing,
in my being,
something beautiful for God
let the Spirit make of me.
Something meaningful and true,
in my living
and believing,
something meaningful and true,
something beautiful and new.
I think we can all agree that her wish was fulfilled.
A service to celebrate Shirley’s life was held at the Raumati Church of the Kapiti Uniting Parish.
Messages may be emailed to the family at
either serenam3131@gmail.com or arohanui61@gmail.com .
Wayne Matheson
Assembly Executive Secretary