That Old Time Hymnal; it’s good enough for…

The United Methodist world is abuzz with the news: production on the new United Methodist Hymnal, slated for the 2012 quadrennium, has been halted.

While my congregation rejoices that this means the copies of The Faith We Sing we just bought are not going to be obsolete right away, and I rejoice that people aren’t going to dump a gozillion Hymnals in recycling bins just yet, it’s a great opportunity for us to rethink what a hymnal can and should be in our context.

As usual, my friend Jeremy got me thinking about what such a hymnal might look like. But it was a Facebooker named Steve who wrote down what I was thinking and so much more. His vision for the new Hymnal is something I would like to see embraced by United Methodists at a grassroots level as well as by the publishing house and the General Church.

Join the conversation! What would you like to see in a new Hymnal?

[editorial note: wow! my fingers haven’t had their coffee yet; i caught a ton of typos, but I’m sure I missed some.]

5 thoughts on “That Old Time Hymnal; it’s good enough for…”

  1. It’s amazing to me how effortless the leap to internet resources is for some people, and how inconceivable it is to others. I’m not talking a generational gap, just a simple “embrace technology” mantra.

    Love this conversation and where it is going. I’m waiting to see who is listening.

    1. So if there’s no one listening, how do we get the attention of the people who should be listening?

      (hehe, is it wrong that I’m picturing United Methodists protesting at the publishing house with signs? “Read my lips and read my sign; I want the Methodist Hymnal online!”)


  2. Sometimes we are saved from ourselves. The signs were pointing to a new hymnal being published that would then languish on the shelves at UMPH.

    Instead, we now have the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and ask questions like:

    *How many churches use the UMH in worship, either primarily or at all? How many members attend those services?

    *How many of those churches would actually be interested in buying a new hymnal?

    *Can we do more to promote the new music services we ALREADY have?

    These are questions where the information can be gathered at charge conferences over the next couple of years. So, you actually get a bottom-up indication of opinion rather than “it will be 25 years since the last hymnal in 2014 and we need a new hymnal NOW!” or “sales are down at Cokesbury and we need new product!” or something else that isn’t related to resourcing the local church.

    1. I agree that this is a fortunate turn of events in many ways, or at least can become a great opportunity. It is a chance to let the formation of the hymnal be a response to needs in the local church, rather than, as you say, a sense that every 25 years it’s time for a new hymnal. But I think we don’t just need to think about making fewer hymnals, but making better and more versatile hymnals. If we can make the hymnal something *more* and more relevant to the local churches and the people who use it for worship, than it can reclaim its roots as a means of spreading the gospel and empowering the ministry of the people. I think it’s a chance to demand that our hymnal indeed be the resource that we need it to be and know it can be for this time and for the future ministry of the church.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


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