Murray, Shirley Erena
SHIRLEY ERENA MURRAY (b. 1931) is a hymn text writer, born in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1931. Her texts have appeared in more than 100 collections worldwide and have been translated into several languages. She has been an editor with the New Zealand Hymnbook Trust and received international acclaim for her writing, including being made a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music (2006) and becoming a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (2001) for services to the community through hymn writing. She is the first citizen to be so honored. Most recently, she has been honored by the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada at its July 2009 annual conference by being named a Fellow of the Society in recognition of her contributions as a hymn writer to the international community of congregational song. Also, in 2009, she was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.) from the University of Otago.
Shirley has been the Erik Routley Fellow (PCUSA) in 1996 and her hymns have been included in the worship of the World Council of Churches' Assemblies.
She has worked with Dr I-to Loh, musical ethnologist from Taiwan, in paraphrasing Asian hymns into English and providing texts for `Sound the Bamboo' (1990, 2000).
Her fourth collection, Touch the Earth Lightly was just released by Hope Publishing Company in the summer of 2008. In her previous books, In Every Corner Sing (1992), Every Day in Your Spirit (1996) and Faith Makes the Song (2003), her work appears with settings by many different composers. In the past fifteen years the NZHT has published four collections of new hymns also containing a wide variety of her texts and set by New Zealand composers: Alleluia Aotearoa, Carol Our Christmas, He Came Singing Peace and Faith Forever Singing.
Her hymns and carols address a wide spectrum of themes ranging from the seasons of the Church year to human rights, care of creation, women's concerns and above all, peace. Methodist by upbringing, and ecumenical by persuasion, she has spent most of her life as a Presbyterian. She was married to a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of NZ, the Very Rev. John Stewart Murray, who passed away just recently (2017). She has three sons and six grandchildren, and now lives in active retirement in Paraparaumu Beach.