Three Vegan Hymns, op. 46

It occurred to me that with more and more people adopting ethical dietary habits, there might soon be a call for church materials that reflect this burgeoning awareness on the part of congregations.

As luck would have it, earlier this year, I read a tremendously interesting (if slightly academic) volume titled The Bloodless Revolution: Radical Vegetarians and the Discovery of India. The author, Tristam Stuart, charts the rise of vegetarian diets among the European gentry of the 17th-19th centuries, with a special interest given to the ways in which Christians attempted to square vegetarianism (which, truth be told, they received by way of the recently-colonized East) with their own theology.

One of these newly awakened vegetarians was a minister named William Cowherd (not making that up) who established a minor sect known as the Bible Christian Church. Cowherd preached vegetarianism and supposedly found a biblical foundation for his stance (though I fear the connection is tenuous) and most importantly of all, he penned three hymn texts on the subject of abstaining from flesh.

As far as I can tell, no music was ever expressly been written for these texts. That is, until now:

These hymns are free for anyone who cares to use them. Do with them what you will.

A side note: one of these hymns, the vividly-titled “Eaters of Flesh!”, caught my particular fancy, and I used it as the basis for an extended fantasia, a piece so peculiar in its design that I have trouble describing it. I’ve arranged it as a sort of emo rock ballad which then leads into a Mahlerian / Sibelian piano rhapsody, and after a crunchy-chord climax, it returns to its original cast, but then ends with a faux-Renaissance coda. If that makes any sense.