Is the hymnal on the way out?

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JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Are hymnals on the way out? PLEASE...this is NOT another discussion about exclusive psalmody or instruments in worship.

Recently, I was asked whether I thought our church should purchase hymnals. Briefly, we've been without them because of the cost. This got me thinking about the use of hymnals at all. Are they on the way out?

The trend seems to be the newer settings of hymns (eg. ruf hymnal), the contemporary settings of Psalms and the transition, especially in a lot of PCA churches, to using overhead projectors and printing words in the bulletins, I wonder if the hymnal is going to be a thing of the past in the next ten years.



Any thoughts?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Are hymnals on the way out? PLEASE...this is NOT another discussion about exclusive psalmody or instruments in worship.

Recently, I was asked whether I thought our church should purchase hymnals. Briefly, we've been without them because of the cost. This got me thinking about the use of hymnals at all. Are they on the way out?

The trend seems to be the newer settings of hymns (eg. ruf hymnal), the contemporary settings of Psalms and the transition, especially in a lot of PCA churches, to using overhead projectors and printing words in the bulletins, I wonder if the hymnal is going to be a thing of the past in the next ten years.



Any thoughts?

Our church federation is working on a new one. It will have all the Psalms in them, just like we have now, but it will also include a more thorough selection of hymns.
 

matthew11v25

Puritan Board Sophomore
I do not think Hymnals are going anywhere fast. If a church only uses songs from the Trinity or from the Psalter then it would be wasteful to discard their use and print out music for the whole church each week or buy a projector and screen.

My church uses songs from Trinity, Psalter, RUF and Townend, etc. We have moved to printing the music or putting lyrics in the bulletin. I personally think that overheads or projectors are more efficient compared to printing out music or lyrics every week.

I love the uniformity of a hymnal, but my church does to many songs by different sources to have all the music confined to one book.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
My church uses songs by RUF and Townend, etc. We have moved to printing the music or putting lyrics in the bulletin. I personally think that overheads or projectors are more efficient compared to printing out music or lyrics every week.

I love the uniformity of a hymnal, but my church does to many songs by different sources to have all the music confined to one book.

That is the way it is at our church, and from what I am hearing from my PCA friends, this is where most of the PCA churches are headed.
 

Abd_Yesua_alMasih

Puritan Board Junior
I assume you mean by hymnal a set of books with the lyrics inside them (what ever the lyrics may be).

Over here I hardly see them anymore although they are used in my church. Even then we tend to have other songs printed as well. I wonder if they would replace them when they get too old.

It certainly does not make financial sense (anymore) to have all the words to every song printed in a hard cover book and given to each member of the congregation. With powerpoint and OHTs I would say hymnals will be a thing of the past before long.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I assume you mean by hymnal a set of books with the lyrics inside them (what ever the lyrics may be).

Over here I hardly see them anymore although they are used in my church. Even then we tend to have other songs printed as well. I wonder if they would replace them when they get too old.

It certainly does not make financial sense (anymore) to have all the words to every song printed in a hard cover book and given to each member of the congregation. With powerpoint and OHTs I would say hymnals will be a thing of the past before long.

Yes, I am speaking of the hardbound book with hymns and printed music.
 

Ivan

Pastor
I believe hymnals will be a thing of the past, sooner or later. Not saying it's a good thing.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
hymns psalm settings and copyright infringement

The trend seems to be the newer settings of hymns (eg. ruf hymnal), the contemporary settings of Psalms and the transition, especially in a lot of PCA churches, to using overhead projectors and printing words in the bulletins, I wonder if the hymnal is going to be a thing of the past in the next ten years.



Any thoughts?
I have noted the same trend. If the new settings are included in the bulletins or powerpoints, or overheads are copyrights being infringed on. If we use the older settings that is not a problem.

The advantage of singing the Scottish Psalter, or Prayer Book Psalter, or AngloGeneva Psalter is we are singing the Psalms in the light of the Gospel. Those Psalm settings and most of the settings for the older common domain hymns are sung or chanted slowly enough so the meaning can be understood. Most of the newer gospel songs and hymn settings are influenced by the lively charismatic style of worship.

As I said, I have noticed the same trend but do not think it is a good trend.
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
Personally, I think that they are a waste of money.

The following is serious:

It would be a lot cheaper to have the words and music projected than in a book. If a hymnal is $25 ea. and there are 200 in ea. place of worship- think of the money that could be saved by doing it differently.

And there is NOTHING in the RPW that could go against it- it is a circumstance.
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
Are hymnals on the way out? PLEASE...this is NOT another discussion about exclusive psalmody or instruments in worship.

Recently, I was asked whether I thought our church should purchase hymnals. Briefly, we've been without them because of the cost. This got me thinking about the use of hymnals at all. Are they on the way out?

The trend seems to be the newer settings of hymns (eg. ruf hymnal), the contemporary settings of Psalms and the transition, especially in a lot of PCA churches, to using overhead projectors and printing words in the bulletins, I wonder if the hymnal is going to be a thing of the past in the next ten years.



Any thoughts?

Trinity Hymnal is supposed to be good. I believe it also has Psalms in it. If your church is going to sing outside the Psalter, then it is better to use an hymnal you can trust rather than songs of questionable theology as 'overhead' songs tend to be. Or so they are in my church. Every once and a while we sing a scripture song. The local IFB churches sing almost only scripture at their evening service on Sunday.
 

Abd_Yesua_alMasih

Puritan Board Junior
Personally, I think that they are a waste of money.

The following is serious:

It would be a lot cheaper to have the words and music projected than in a book. If a hymnal is $25 ea. and there are 200 in ea. place of worship- think of the money that could be saved by doing it differently.

And there is NOTHING in the RPW that could go against it- it is a circumstance.

Okay I agreed with you until I started to do the maths. :think: Now it really depends on the church BUT lets say we have hymnals as you said at $25 each for a church of 200 people. That comes down to $5000. Now these hymnals could last for 25 years or more (lets assume 25 to make it easy). This means each hymnal costs $1 per year (ie total of $200 per year). Lets then say powerpoint projector and everything costs around $2000-3000 with maybe more if you need a laptop, then you need a minimum of ten years use out of the projector before it becomes cheaper than the hymnals. In this case hymnals are cheaper then.

Of course this changes if you use the projector for other things such as sermons etc...
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
I recently visited a congregation which had moved the pulpit and a large cross they had on the wall to the side so that they could project non-scriptural and non-worshipful ditties. They have hymnals and their bulletin (they did have one) listed three hymns, but I don't know why. They never even mentioned them let alone singing them.

My own congregation uses hymnals, but pays for a CCLI license so that we can also sing some newer hymns. We print them for the congregation.

Hymnals are expensive, but I don't think they're going away real soon.
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
Personally, I think that they are a waste of money.

The following is serious:

It would be a lot cheaper to have the words and music projected than in a book. If a hymnal is $25 ea. and there are 200 in ea. place of worship- think of the money that could be saved by doing it differently.

And there is NOTHING in the RPW that could go against it- it is a circumstance.

Okay I agreed with you until I started to do the maths. :think: Now it really depends on the church BUT lets say we have hymnals as you said at $25 each for a church of 200 people. That comes down to $5000. Now these hymnals could last for 25 years or more (lets assume 25 to make it easy). This means each hymnal costs $1 per year (ie total of $200 per year). Lets then say powerpoint projector and everything costs around $2000-3000 with maybe more if you need a laptop, then you need a minimum of ten years use out of the projector before it becomes cheaper than the hymnals. In this case hymnals are cheaper then.

Of course this changes if you use the projector for other things such as sermons etc...

That is if the denomination keeps the same hymnal for 25 years!
 

Abd_Yesua_alMasih

Puritan Board Junior
You are right, it is an assumption, but I would bet a lot of the old ones I see lying around in churches here when they are still in use are about as old as that. I know I have seen many of them printed in the 1970s.
 

Webservant

Puritan Board Sophomore
I assume you mean by hymnal a set of books with the lyrics inside them (what ever the lyrics may be).

Over here I hardly see them anymore although they are used in my church. Even then we tend to have other songs printed as well. I wonder if they would replace them when they get too old.

It certainly does not make financial sense (anymore) to have all the words to every song printed in a hard cover book and given to each member of the congregation. With powerpoint and OHTs I would say hymnals will be a thing of the past before long.
I am all for the overhead lyrics, but I would be against getting rid of hymnals. We live as though the lights will always be on, and for most of human history, we read by the light of a fire. The projected lyrics are not free, by the way. We have a CCLI license to cover reproduced music which is paid for every year.
 

Abd_Yesua_alMasih

Puritan Board Junior
I am all for the overhead lyrics, but I would be against getting rid of hymnals. We live as though the lights will always be on, and for most of human history, we read by the light of a fire. The projected lyrics are not free, by the way. We have a CCLI license to cover reproduced music which is paid for every year.
:gpl:Thanks for pointing that out. I went through the math a few posts above and am seeing your opinion. How much is the CCLI license? It would have to be put into the equation as well. As I see it now unless you have the projector for something else and use it often for that and projecting songs is just a side job, it still makes financial sense to have hymnals.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
The retention of the hymnal in most churches would be greatly facilitated if more than 2-3% of the congregation could read choral harmonizations. It is a failure of education, based upon a failure to appreciate and pass on God's gift of music to future generations.

The retooling of the tunes of the great hymns in our PCA congregations is a travesty, in my opinion. If I hear one more mediocre setting of "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" I will burn every RUF songbook to cross my path.

1. You cannot top Bach's chorale setting, and you shouldn't even attempt it.

2. If you want to mess with the tunes to any of these hymns, then you should write your own words as well. 99% of the settings coming out of the pens of PCA worship leaders are not worthy of a first year composition student. It would be much better if they paired them up with their own mediocre lyrics, and thus paired like with like. Otherwise there is a tremendous imbalance and dissonance left between the quality of the original lyrics and the quality of the new musical setting, in most cases.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
1. You cannot top Bach's chorale setting, and you shouldn't even attempt it.

Man after my own heart!

I use a book of Bach chorales for the melodies and harmonies of hymns in private hymn singing. I'll use the music for various Psalms, and for hymns from the old Trinity hymnal (also have an old Lutheran Hymnal that is a trove of wonderful hymns and tunes). Sometimes I'll transcribe it in Noteworthy so everyone can follow their melodic lines.

I guess our congregation is really stuck in the past. We have three bound hymnals: the old blue Trinity, the even older Gadsby, and the Trinity Psalter. I doubt that our people would give up any of them.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
no, however I do think there would be an advantage to having digital copies of all of the different types.
 

Webservant

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am all for the overhead lyrics, but I would be against getting rid of hymnals. We live as though the lights will always be on, and for most of human history, we read by the light of a fire. The projected lyrics are not free, by the way. We have a CCLI license to cover reproduced music which is paid for every year.
:gpl:Thanks for pointing that out. I went through the math a few posts above and am seeing your opinion. How much is the CCLI license? It would have to be put into the equation as well. As I see it now unless you have the projector for something else and use it often for that and projecting songs is just a side job, it still makes financial sense to have hymnals.
I can't get the table to display properly but click HERE for pricing.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
I recently visited a congregation which had moved the pulpit and a large cross they had on the wall to the side so that they could project non-scriptural and non-worshipful ditties. They have hymnals and their bulletin (they did have one) listed three hymns, but I don't know why. They never even mentioned them let alone singing them.

Same here - I don't care for it (I've seen it first hand here). It seems to me that when the hymnals go as the mainstay, the projector comes out, questionable lyrics come in, the cross is moved, the pulpit disappears, and the message is diluted.
 

Grymir

Puritan Board Graduate
I can't sing very well, but with a hymnal I can at least make my voice go up or down to follow the music. Plus then I know how long to sing each note. With the overhead, singing just seems like a caucophany, instead of something worthy of singing to God. I could mention that hymnals tend to have the good o'le songs that speak of what God has done for us, and when the screen comes down at my church, I know I'm gonna get a 'Love songs for Jesus' song. But to be fair, our hymnals have way to many Gaither songs in them, along with other songs that magnify man and not God.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
For the record, our church would be purchasing the Trinity hymnal. We tend to sing a lot of hymns from the Trinity hymnal anyway, but the arrangements are slightly different.

By the way, I agree with those who complain about the RUF arrangements. There are a few really good ones, and the rest need a lot of help.

Please keep the comments coming.
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
I can't sing very well, but with a hymnal I can at least make my voice go up or down to follow the music. Plus then I know how long to sing each note. With the overhead, singing just seems like a caucophany, instead of something worthy of singing to God. I could mention that hymnals tend to have the good o'le songs that speak of what God has done for us, and when the screen comes down at my church, I know I'm gonna get a 'Love songs for Jesus' song. But to be fair, our hymnals have way to many Gaither songs in them, along with other songs that magnify man and not God.

I see we went to the same school of music. I like how those roundish things go up and down. They mystify me sometimes - but I appreciate it when they are written down around a hymn that glorifies God.
 

beej6

Puritan Board Sophomore
One thing that irks me is when visiting a (usually evangelical) church, the words are either printed or projected, but the songs are unfamiliar. How is a visitor supposed to sing along? Plus many 'modern' songs have un-rhythmic phrasing, so the net effect is only the "worship team" and regular church members can even attempt to sing. At least with a hymnal I can sing melody and/or harmony.

I realize I'm in the minority as I can read music and have been a music director for a church. Still, the hymnal is a prayer book that happens to have music in it. A secondary (tertiary?) educational function of the church has been to teach its members how to sing, all the better to worship our Lord.
 

Webservant

Puritan Board Sophomore
One thing that irks me is when visiting a (usually evangelical) church, the words are either printed or projected, but the songs are unfamiliar. How is a visitor supposed to sing along? Plus many 'modern' songs have un-rhythmic phrasing, so the net effect is only the "worship team" and regular church members can even attempt to sing. At least with a hymnal I can sing melody and/or harmony.

I realize I'm in the minority as I can read music and have been a music director for a church. Still, the hymnal is a prayer book that happens to have music in it. A secondary (tertiary?) educational function of the church has been to teach its members how to sing, all the better to worship our Lord.
Maybe this is over-reaching, but I see it as an extension of how dependent we are becoming in general. We can't sing the hymns unless someone plugs in the projector, we can't learn the tune unless the worship team sings it for us. As I posted earlier - what if the lights go out? What if China busts a nuke 20 miles up and EMPs us out of the power grid for the next 20 years? No juice, no worship?
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I think it depends on the church, although I would imagine that more and more churches are doing without. One PCA church doesn't have them but instead prints the words in the bulletin. Their liturgy is fairly Reformed but they have a praise band and sing a mixture of more recent praise songs and older hymns. Another PCA in the area replaced a different hymnal with the Trinity Hymnal. The Baptist church plant we now attend uses hymnals.
 
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