Saturday, April 28, 2007


The new Lutheran hymnal

In our congregation, I haven't heard anything about the new hymnal for ELCA, although from time to time I read about it on the internet. These things take a long time to work through, and our congregation does very little that other Lutherans would recognize anyway, so we are not the audience. At our Mill Run location, there are no hymnals. I use the hymnal for hymns if it matches what's on the screen just because I hate to totally lose my music reading ability; occasionally it is needed for liturgy, but not often. So what I have here are comments (used with permission) excerpted from an e-mail from another Lutheran, a choir director in another denomination, who does know music and liturgy and attended a regional workshop:

"There were 141 registered; majority was made up of pastors, choir directors and those interested in ELCA worship. The presentation team consisted of 5 pastors and 2 laymen from the Northern Illinois Synod. They went through one complete service setting as well as playing a very fine DVD hosted by Rev. Mark Hanson on the birth and completion of this new hymnal.

From the voices around me, I knew I was in the company of people who love to sing, know how to sing and have little trouble with rhythm or range.

I was impressed with the amount of information contained in this new hymnal. The line drawings, alone, were worth the price of the book.

But I came away feeling that those who put the hymns together did not give much consideration to range: many ran up to Ds, Es and even Fs on the treble clef. Too high for most congregations.

And the number of choices of service settings, prayers and responses was overwhelming. Putting hymns from WOV and the purple Hymnal Supplement into this new ELW was a great idea, but they overdid it on the liturgical variety.

I know it's been over 30 years since the green hymnal publication but I left the meeting wondering if the cost to each congregation was worth the gain in newer, more contemporary hymns and ten Holy Communion settings."

Ten communion settings? Silly me, we're lucky at our church to use one and only the older people know it. I'm almost afraid to see what 10 different settings can do to gender-free pronouns.

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