Churches mark time with hymnals, their collective memory shaped by each new season of song. This summer a new era will begin, as the COS worship team has voted to adopt the new Lift Up Your Hearts (LUYH) hymnal that will be released by Faith Alive this June. To prepare you for the day when these cranberry red hymnals appear under your seats this summer, let me bring you up to speed on the decision.
Song repertoire changes over time. We don’t need to slavishly follow cultural trends (has COS ever been accused of that?), but we need to acknowledge that there is a constant refreshing of the song of God’s people. Since 1987, when the grey Psalter Hymnal was published, global songs have become important to many churches, modern Praise & Worship has become the dominant style in Protestant worship, historically-rooted liturgy and the lectionary have become commonplace in the CRC, and there has been a resurgence of Psalmody. LUYH will reflect these changes.
If you’re the type of person who dislikes change and fears the unknown, put your mind at ease: LUYH is a very COS-friendly collection. Three COS members sat on the editorial committee. The songs of four COS members are represented in the hymnal. We can all be proud that much of the liturgical pioneering Church of the Servant did decades ago has worked its way into this new hymnal. You will recognize songs from Joyful Noises, find songs that were premiered in COS worship, and pick up a general “sensibility” that shows how much influence our church has had on the whole denomination’s worship.
Of course, some of you may wonder, “Greg, if we are already doing all this, why do we need to buy a hymnal?” Good question. The hymnal working group, worship team, and council all considered alternatives, but each had its drawbacks: Projecting songs would be as costly as buying a new hymnal, and would give a large portion of the congregation the heebie jeebies. Continuing to print songs in the liturgy is viable, but it makes sense to have the bulk of our repertoire in the hymnal, as well, to save space in the liturgy and to make songs available for impromptu singing. Sticking with the grey Psalter Hymnal is an option, but doesn’t give us access to many of the songs we use regularly in worship: “Before the Throne of God Above,” “Kwake Yesu/Here on Jesus Christ I Will Stand,” “In Christ Alone,” “Cantad al Señor/O sing to the Lord,” etc.
Adopting the new LUYH hymnal seemed like the wisest decision. The good news is that we didn’t have to worry about financing the purchase. A hymnal fund had been set up years ago, waiting for an opportunity like this. As long as we place our order before January we’ll get a pre-publication discount that means the hymnal will exactly match the amount of money available in the account.
The final question that may be on your mind: “Will there be things about this new hymnal that will annoy me?” Yes, there will be. It is virtually guaranteed that a collection of 800 songs that is compiled and edited by someone other than yourself will include some songs that you dislike and edits with which you disagree. But that’s just part of being the Church, right? We give up a little bit of our freedom and control out of love for the larger Body of Christ.
Hymn nerds can visit http://liftupyourheartshymnal.org/ to browse song lists, view comparisons of the new hymnal to previous CRC/RCA hymnals, and read a host of other information. Also, feel free to ask me any questions you may have. Finally, there will be an opportunity for you to buy a copy of LUYH at a reduced rate for use in your home.
Can’t tell a Psalter Hymnal from a psalter or hymnal? Contact Greg Scheer (firstname.lastname@example.org).