Central Baptist Hymnal Committee
The hymns we sing are a part of our worship to God; they also teach us Christian faith and action. Our pew hymnals have served Central well, but after twenty-five years it is time to find new ones. Over the past three months, several members of the congregation have been meeting together as the hymnal committee to discuss a potential change. We are a group charged to find hymnals that would benefit our worship together and would reflect Central’s theology and social interests.
Here are some attributes we were looking for to benefit our worship: well-known hymns; language that included all of us; psalms and litanies for prayer; hymns from the diversity of Christians world-wide; newer, recently composed hymns; and selections that fit our liturgical calendar (Advent, Christmas, Lent, etc.). In addition, we wanted hymns and songs that filled Central’s theological and social needs: hymns that express important tenets of the Christian faith like the Trinity; hymns that incorporate biblical language and stories; and hymns that urge us to express our faith through care for the world (creation care, justice, reconciliation, etc.). And of course, these hymns and songs needed to be musically excellent and singable!
With such a tall order, we were happy to find two hymnals that met most of our expectations. The final choice is between the Chalice Hymnal and Glory to God. Now we are turning to Central for help with the final decision. Please stop by the church foyer to take a look through the two hymnals. We welcome your feedback through email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a written thoughts on paper provided next to the hymnals
Below are descriptions of the two finalists, and how they met our expectations:
The Chalice Hymnal was published in 1995 by the Disciples of Christ, and has been well liked by congregations for the past twenty years. It is chiefly organized by theological tenet and different components of a Christian worship service. It contains selections of hymns for the church calendar, and includes psalters and prayers. It contains many familiar and standard hymns, and has modernized language in every hymn to include all. There are contemplative songs from the Taizé and Iona communities and African American spirituals. It has a section entitled “God’s World,” with many hymns about care of the earth, human dignity and equality, and justice and righteousness. There are also several helpful indexes for worship planning.
Glory to God:
Glory to God was published in 2013 by the Presbyterian Church USA, and has also been well received by congregations. It contains familiar hymns, newly composed hymns, and many hymns and songs from Taizé, Latin America, Korea, and other Christian communities around the world. The history, background, and central imagery is provided for each hymn. This hymnal is also organized by theological tenet, components of the worship service, and the church calendar. Biblical language and attention to the biblical narrative are very evident in this hymnal; there are many hymns and songs inspired by the Psalms. This hymnal prioritizes worshipping God and teaching the faith, but there are several hymns and songs throughout the hymnal which attend to justice, poverty, and reconciliation. There are several helpful indexes for worship planning, and statements on inclusive language and theological vision located in the appendix.
Update from Committee
Thank you to all the members who offered feedback to the Hymnal Search committee and thank you to the committee for the hard work and prayerful consideration. At the September 21 business meeting, the committee will present its choice for our new hymnal. The committee has selected Glory to God.
As a Baptist church affirming the liberty of conscience, we recognize each individual's right to his or her own opinion and welcome your comments, positive or negative. We strive for communication that invites a respectful and personal exchange of opinions and thoughts. This is often not possible through running dialogues in our comment section. To respect the dignity of all persons, we may delete comments that contain profanity, hate speech, or threatening language.
I've looked through both hymnals and generally wasn't too disappointed. Having grown up with versions of the Baptist Hymnal, of course I will still have some bias. However, between these two choices, I think I would slightly favor the "Glory to God" version. I was a little concerned about the age of the other one. Both are missing some songs I really like, but if we need to move on, I'd feel better with the Glory to God. To the Committee, thanks for all the hard work. Isaac