Is the hymnal on the way out?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
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.

:ditto: & :amen:
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
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.

Do y'all have the Blue Presbyterian hymnal?
 

Grymir

Puritan Board Graduate
I think the new ones are blue. It's called Hymns for the Family of God. Published by Paragon Associates, Inc.
 

Grymir

Puritan Board Graduate
From the preface -

"Hymnals of the past usually chose to use the KIng James Bible, which dates back to the 1600's. Today, there are close to twenty highly regarded versions, paraphrases or new translations of the original Hebrew and Greek." hmm twenty highly regarded? :gpl:

"A major reward was being allowed the freedom to be innovative." hmmm :gpl:

"...let them fill the air. Organs, hymns, readings, drums, guitars, and anthems swell!" hmm a sign of things to come? :gpl:

and from a 1976 edition too.

Part of my study is watching my church and seeing how it relates worship to theology. When the projector screen appeared, the theology slipped down the list of important things. hmmm I'm begining to wonder about this specific hymnal.
 

21st Century Calvinist

Puritan Board Junior
I think that the hymnal in churches will probably disappear over time. Hymnbooks are limited in the number of items they can contain. By projecting or printing the words we have our psalms, hymns and spiritual songs from a greater variety of sources. Some churches that print the words also print the music, my own church just prints the words.
I am a great fan of putting modern tunes to older hymns. I do recognize that some of the RUF arrangements are not really suitable for congregational use, some hymns should never have been tampered with, but there are some excellent arrangements from RUF. Some of the tunes have made unsingable older hymns accessible to us. I am blessed by some of these hymns and arrangements and give thanks to God for them.
For what it's worth, I like the Trinity Hymnal but some of the tunes there I really can't get into. Also some of my favorite older hymns are not there, eg Before the Throne of God Above, Depth of Mercy, I know that my Redeemer Lives
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
It is true that not every tune in the RUF hymnal is horrible, nor that every hymn in the Trinity Hymnal is notable. As well, when I have been able, I like to add good Psalm settings, along with the better of contemporary hymnody, to the worship service. That way we can follow the full intent of Paul's instructions when he says to the church in... (Whoops, I forgot. I'll stop now before derailing the thread :lol:)
 

Larry Bump

Puritan Board Freshman
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.


And how do we sing to this non-existent psalter/hymnal at home?
There needs to be a common source for family worship and private singing; right?

If you mean choosing different settings with a common meter for a selection, that;s fine; but we need to have something that is "set".
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Our church is waiting till the 1961 Trinity Hymnal is finished reprinting and then we are going to buy some new ones of those.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
A hymnal serves several purposes that several have alluded to here, but haven't been brought out as fully as I've been thinking. There is real value in having a common set of words and music. I find it almost impossible to participate in worship when given just words to a song or hymn I don't know (and I know a huge number). This commonality allows people to visit other churches when on the road, bring the hymns home to family worship and pass them along to their children. It should also be a collection that has been thoroughly reviewed for theological, musical, and literary merit (although how Softly and Tenderly made it into the Trinity Hymnal is beyond me -- it is so poorly written, it was originally refused for publication, so the author started his own publications!).

The church has long led in promoting excellent musicianship. Bach is the most obvious example, but in this country, when the puritans elected the "new" style of singing, they backed it up by teaching their congregations to read music and harmonize. (A form of psalm singing had been common where one person started, then others started when and how they wanted to leading to a cacophony. This is a vast oversimplification, but gives a picture of what was happening.) Later, "shape" singing was used in the mountain regions to encourage people to read music.

We can, and must, reestablish high standards for music in worship.
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
The Hymnal is not going away in the OPC any time soon. There is a project right now to produce a new Psalter/Hymnal in which all 150 Psalms will appear and a selection of Hymns. It is due out by 2011, I think.

In Christ,

KC
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
One of the things I don't like with overhead is that you don't see the tune. At least with printed music, you can make a good attempt at a new tune. For those who can't read music, at least they can see when the notes go up and down.

The other thing is that you can't practice singing at home. If I can step up to my soapbox briefly, I think people should practice singing because it is an element of worship. If someone mentions that they don't understand the Bible, they are encouraged to study it. If someone mentions that they can't sing, how often are they encouraged to practice? A book containing lyrics and printed music is the way to practice. Even if you can't read the tune, at least you can get a audio recording and sing along and learn that way.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The Hymnal is not going away in the OPC any time soon. There is a project right now to produce a new Psalter/Hymnal in which all 150 Psalms will appear and a selection of Hymns. It is due out by 2011, I think.

In Christ,

KC

Something which I look forward to. :offtopic: but I hear that they well be truly Psalms not just loose paraphrases.
 

JoelYrick

Puritan Board Freshman
As a child, my church used a hymnal. We then switched to projection. It was my experience that we used a far wider range of hymns while using the hymnal. Sure, you could use more hymns if you have a projector, but it seemed that it didn't turn out that way.

Since joining the RPCNA, I can't keep up with all the different Psalms we use. I've been there for nearly 4 years, and there's hardly a week that goes by that I don't know a psalm or two that is used. I wonder if this is because folks know how to read music much better there...
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
The issue, to my mind, over the use of hymnals in the future is not over the value of having them, but of the musical literacy of the people in the congregation. In my experience, people in the general population cannot read music anymore. Moreover, most congregations that I know can't sing harmonies either. Thus, if a song is regulated to a single tune which have the upper (female) and lower (male) parts for the same line, the hymnal, while nice, isn't needed anymore. I don't think hymns are on the way out, but hymnals are for the most part, due in large part to musical illiteracy.

I think, if hymnals have a sustained use in the general church in the future, it will be in family and private worship.
:2cents:
 

ChristianHedonist

Puritan Board Freshman
One positive thing about having the words projected on a screen is that I prefer to look up when I sing, and it is easier for me to be more conscious of the words I am singing. With hymnals, I sometimes find myself getting so caught up in following and singing the bass line that I'm not paying enough attention to the words I am singing. However, i much prefer being able to harmonize and sing the bass lines (especially the ones arranged by Bach), and I prefer having the musical notation, not just the lyrics, especially for songs I'm not as familiar with. I would prefer to stick with the hymnal (or some other method of printing/displaying both words and music) for corporate worship.
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
The Hymnal is not going away in the OPC any time soon. There is a project right now to produce a new Psalter/Hymnal in which all 150 Psalms will appear and a selection of Hymns. It is due out by 2011, I think.

In Christ,

KC

Something which I look forward to. :offtopic: but I hear that they well be truly Psalms not just loose paraphrases.

They're trying to get away from Yodaisms, you know, verbs at the end of phrases.

Pastor's Larry Wilson and Peter Wallace have been doing quite a bit of work with this.

In Christ,

KC
 

CovenantalBaptist

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree with the statements about not being able to project the music. I think that while projection has certain advantages, the disadvantage of not projecting the actual music is a deal-breaker for me. Supplementary music can be printed in a binder and form a more permanent copy (bonus: it's also EMP-proof).

For those concerned about the musical literacy of the church, may I recommend the following simple program: "The Hidden Choir". I hope to implement it sometime when I get some time. I know of another Reformed Baptist church that has derived much benefit from it. I think it is a good idea to teach the church to tune its voice(as the RPCNA does at their retreats) . The website is currently down (but I believe you can still order them some places but you may have to do some internet spelunking). Here is a brief review.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There's a musical ensemble in our area that has begun to do yearly sing-along concerts of Handel's "Messiah". That's right, we get to sing along with them.

This group in our area is promoting the ability to sing some of the grandest music ever composed. I think that this would mean that down the road music books become a necessity again.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There's a musical ensemble in our area that has begun to do yearly sing-along concerts of Handel's "Messiah". That's right, we get to sing along with them.

This group in our area is promoting the ability to sing some of the grandest music ever composed. I think that this would mean that down the road music books become a necessity again.

I grew up in a community that did that, and we loved it.

I don't think that singing from written music will ever go away, at least not as long as we remain civilized. I do think, however, that if the trends continue, hymnals are going to take a back seat.

I would also agree with those who say that once the projection screen shows up, out the window goes the music with any depth. I find that to be very true. Even in my own church where we are diligent about singing psalms and hymns, there is a tendancy to avoid singing the more difficult hymns because there is no music to follow and attention is turned from concentrating on the words to trying to figure out how to sing it.
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
I'd have to agree. I grew up in churches that sang a capella. The congregational singing was beautiful and participation was excellent. Four and six part harmony was the norm. I never realized how rare it is to grow up knowing how to sing. I have since gone back to some of those same churches some of which now have done away with the hymnal and 'advanced' to projected lyrics, even with the staff. At each of the churches the singing is nothing like it used to be.
 

Clay7926

Puritan Board Sophomore
Our church still uses the classic blue Trinity Hymnals. I don't see us going to songs projected on a screen anytime soon.

While I do believe that modern technology is here to stay, I don't see the Trinity Hymnal, or any Hymnal, going away completely. I know of a lot of folks who learned how to read and sing music from the Hymnal, so from a sentimental standpoint I doubt that it's going anywhere.

Also, I believe that using the Hymnal creates more of an active involvement in worship; I actually have to turn the pages, find the song, and either sing the hymn as a congregation or meditate on the words of a hymn during the Prelude or the Offertory. While I LOVE software like MediaShout, ChurchView, and PowerPoint to project lyrics on the screen, I think that overuse of it can take away from active involvement in worship.
 

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.


And how do we sing to this non-existent psalter/hymnal at home?
There needs to be a common source for family worship and private singing; right?

If you mean choosing different settings with a common meter for a selection, that;s fine; but we need to have something that is "set".

Larry,

Good to hear from you, BTW. I have not seen you at the last couple of presbytery meetings. Hope all is well in Belle Center.

I agree that the physical copy of the book will never be without its value and its usefulness. I am just commenting on the fact that if a strict RPW church wanted to use the Psalter off of the wall (with Crown and Covenant's permission, of course), it would not be a violation of the regulative principle. So, a church COULD get rid of their song books and still have stately, regulated worship.

Frankly, I do not see it ever happening and I would not be the one to promote it in the public worship of the church, but I cannot oppose it based on principle.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
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.


And how do we sing to this non-existent psalter/hymnal at home?
There needs to be a common source for family worship and private singing; right?

If you mean choosing different settings with a common meter for a selection, that;s fine; but we need to have something that is "set".

Larry,

Good to hear from you, BTW. I have not seen you at the last couple of presbytery meetings. Hope all is well in Belle Center.

I agree that the physical copy of the book will never be without its value and its usefulness. I am just commenting on the fact that if a strict RPW church wanted to use the Psalter off of the wall (with Crown and Covenant's permission, of course), it would not be a violation of the regulative principle. So, a church COULD get rid of their song books and still have stately, regulated worship.

Frankly, I do not see it ever happening and I would not be the one to promote it in the public worship of the church, but I cannot oppose it based on principle.

This brings up an interesting question. Some have suggested that there is more involved here than merely posting songs on a screen or on the wall. Could one oppose that "more" based on principle?
 

FrielWatcher

Puritan Board Sophomore
Grew up in PC(USA) where we used the green hymnal and that is all we sang from. At Bethlehem Baptist, they use the overhead with the screen although they do have a Baptist hymnal in the pew pockets. When I visit there, the hymnals haven't been used.

At my church, they have the Trinity Hymnal but a lot, lot of time use overhead with screen.

A friend of mine is in collaboration with a new Lutheran hymnal called "Reclaim" in contradiction to the new ELCA hymnal that has been coined "The Cranberry" because it is cranberry red. The Reclaim is traditional with original lyrics that the Cranberry did away with to be "sensitive".

I hope hymnals don't go away because it seems as if they are just being replaced by praise and worship music.
 

HokieAirman

Puritan Board Freshman
These are all wonderful posts and I greatly appreciate that there are those who value singing "tonally", as I believe the Westminsters :scratch: advocated. As singing is part of worship, it should be done to the best of our ability. One of you mentioned that when we lack knowledge of scripture we are admonished to study it. We ought to desire to praise God in the best way we know how (as long as it does not conflict with that worship prescribed in scripture).

It took me about 9 years of casual singing to reasonably learn intervals and have the ability to pick out a bass or tenor line with accuracy. It's a long process.

Regarding paying too much attention to the musical notation and not understanding the words, I too make that mistake. I think it was the Westminsters also who said we ought to understand what we sing. For that reason I have recommended that my Session advocate the review of the next Sunday's hymns during the previous week so, even if they can't sing them tonally, they can at least understand the words and meaning.

We're a small church and currently choose hymns from the Red Trinity Hymnal and Psalter, but we have to reprint them in the bulletins. We are making an effort to buy hymnals for use in services and lending to families. We're leaning towards the Blue Trinity Hymnals. I've been choosing the hymns for the Sunday services and I've only found one hymn which I really feel is out of place. # 381 "Brethren We Have Met to Worship". I find it quite negative and defeatist. Maybe I'm off base, but I'm sure this is off topic...sorry.

For all the reasons in previous posts, I think it would be a sad day in Christendom if/when hymnals meet their demise. I think, however, that while some denominations will phase them out of their worship, others will keep them for a long time, maybe forever. I do seem to find them more in reformed churches.
 

BaptisticFire2007

Puritan Board Freshman
As a former Pentecostal musician and church projectionist, I like hymnals. For one thing the amount of time required to get it prepped and ready is not worth the stress and heartbreak. My church uses "Psalms and Hymns for Reformed Worship" and it is just so much easier. Hymnals may well be on their way out, but I for one will keep using them...even if it means I will have to reprint them myself
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
We had an interesting experience in worship on Sunday. The electricity went out and 30 minutes before worship started. We had no sound system and two acoustic guitars and a djembe to keep the singing moving. I felt like we had stepped into another world and yet the worship was just as sweet as it always is. It made me realize that we need to have at the very least printed words. If we had had nothing but projected words on the wall, our worship would have been very different.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top