Kirk turns back on 'Jerusalem'

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Sing it softly, but the Church of Scotland plans to turn its back on Jerusalem. And God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen may also to be put to rest - for good.

They are among more than 200 hymns deemed to be past their sell-by date, and recommended for exclusion from the church's new hymn-book.

The list, published yesterday, forms part of a report to be discussed at the kirk's ruling general assembly in Edinburgh later this month.

It is the first report of a committee charged with the lengthy task of drawing up a new hymn-book to replace the current version published in 1973, and which will appear some time after 2000.

Some were dropped on grounds of obsolescence - Jerusalem lost here; others on grounds of "exclusivity or obscure language"; and yet others on grounds of "obtuse or outdated theology".