Friday, December 17, 2010

Have Your Say on the Hymnal

Calling all Episcopalians who care about The Hymnal 1982 and about the congregational and choral singing in our churches!

The General Convention in 2009 called for a feasibility study on hymnal revision. Resolution B004 charged "Church Publishing Incorporated, working with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music [SCLM], to conduct a feasibility study on the need for revision of The Hymnal 1982 by speaking to congregations, dioceses and all seminaries of this Church, and to report its findings to the 77th General Convention."

In keeping with that resolution, SCLM has developed a survey, which they are asking all of us to answer and to share widely. It’s available here.

It’s a pretty long survey, with over 70 questions. You’ll need to set aside 20 to 30 minutes to do it thoughtfully.

I hope you’ll take the survey and share it with other friends.

You can take most of the survey off the cuff. But, having done it today, I realize it would be helpful to have a few resources at hand and to do a little thinking before taking the survey. Here are my suggestions:

  • Have your favorite hymnal(s) at hand.
  • Before you start the survey, think of what are your three favorite hymns.
  • Consider this question: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what eight songs (religious or secular) would you want to have with you?
Then take the survey, and have fun with it. I took the survey today, and enjoyed it.

I’m reprinting below the press release from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs about this study.

By the way, I learned about this survey because I subscribe to the Bishops/Deputies listserv – a source of much timely information. I subscribed way back in 2003 as a “kibitzer.” Only Bishops and General Convention Deputies have posting privileges, but anyone can sign on as an “auditor.” This is a great source for information about our church, and I have long enjoyed listening in on the deliberations of those who serve at General Convention. If you’re interested, you can sign on here. Be aware this is a very active list; you’ll get very many e-mails every day if you subscribe.

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The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs

Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music seeks comments on possible hymnal revision

[December 15, 2010] The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) is inviting input and comments about a possible revision of The Hymnal 1982.

Starting December 15, an online survey is available to engage the entire church in this discussion, noted the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair of the SCLM. The survey is available at
http://www.cpg.org/hymnalstudy2

"We have established this survey as part of The Episcopal Church's ongoing work with liturgical materials and in compliance to Resolution B004 as approved at General Convention 2009," Meyers explained. "This is important work in the life of our church and we are grateful for participation as our church embraces this task."

Resolution B004 "authorize(s) Church Publishing Incorporated, working with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, to conduct a feasibility study on the need for revision of The Hymnal 1982 by speaking to congregations, dioceses and all seminaries of this Church, and to report its findings to the 77th General Convention."

The survey, coordinated by the Church Pension Fund's Office of Research, will be available online until January 31, 2011.

"The study seeks answers to two basic questions," said Dr. Matthew J. Price, Church Pension Group Director of Analytical Research. "First, do the hymnal and the other authorized resources that the Church has for worship music meet the needs of the Church? If the answer to the first question is 'no', then the question should be asked as to whether a new Hymnal is the most efficacious means of answering these new needs."

Meyers explained that prior to the December 15 debut of the online survey, the first step in the Hymnal Revision Feasibility Study was to invite clergy, music directors and church members in 1400 congregations, representing all sizes, locations, and languages in a stratified random sample, to participate in an initial phase of the study.

Following the January 31 deadline, the responses from the initial phase along with the general survey info, will be collated and all data reviewed, under the leadership of Jeannine Otis, a well-known musician from the Diocese of New York and an SCLM member.

These results, along with recommendations for next steps, will be presented to General Convention 2012 as part of the SCLM report.

12 Comments:

Blogger PseudoPiskie said...

Did it. Our organist/choirmaster will do it this afternoon. Saw the post on the HoB/D but linked from your blog which I track on my blog. Thanks.

12/17/2010 10:25 AM  
Blogger David and John said...

Thanks for the link. I hope folks will take the time to do the survey. We have enough going on in TEC right now without trashing the current hymnal.

12/17/2010 5:23 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

Canadian Anglicans are currently on our fourth official hymnal:
* 1908 Book of Common Praise
* 1938 Book of Common Praise
* 1971 Hymn Book (jointly with the United Church of Canada - had less pick up than other versions, and many [most?] congregations continued to use 1938)
* 1998 Common Praise

The preface to one of those (1938, I think) suggested that the life of a hymnal is about 30 years. If so, the American book is due. Technology may mitigate that 30 year measure, however, since it is not easier for a congregation to bring in music that isn't in the book.

12/17/2010 5:29 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'm glad to hear that, Pseudo. And I do hope your organist/choirmaster will do it, too.

David & John: Me, too! And I will confess I share your feeling. There is enough flux in TEC right now; I would be hesitant to launch any significant revisions in the BCP or hymnal when conservatives in our church are already feeling so uneasy. It would take a lot to convince me that any big change was warranted.

12/17/2010 10:38 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for weighing in, Malcolm. I will confess I am ignorant about Canada's hymnals. Here's the thing: in the U.S. church, we have the 1982 Hymnal, but also a whole lot of other hymnals that have been authorized for use. As I visit various parishes, some have those other hymnals in their pews, and some use them in their service leaflets.

So it's not as if we haven't authorized additional hymns in the decades since '82. That's why I'm not sure the 30-year measure is quite relevant. We have a lot of more recent, authorized hymnals.

Is a similar thing true in Canada?

12/17/2010 10:42 PM  
Blogger David and John said...

I agree, Lisa. I can certainly see why some feel the need for a hymnal revision, but for the time being I think it would be best to leave it alone. Two reasons: there's enough going on within TEC right now without "stirring the pot" with a hymnal revision, and it would be much more economical to simply bring out a hymnal "supplement" to introduce new music.


I was an organist in the United Methodist Church at the age of 17, and went through a hymnal revision. It was not pretty. While improvements were definately made, there was much that was lost (as there always is in a major revision).

As a member of TEC, and the organist/choirmaster in my parish, I truly think a major revision to the 1982 Hymnal is not a good idea.

12/18/2010 8:48 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'll say it again, David & John: I agree that a major hymnal revision isn't warranted now, for the same reasons you mentioned.

I did learn one thing from the survey. I knew that TEC had authorized some other hymnals in addition to The Hymnal 1982. I knew about Lift Every Voice and Sing [LEVS], but the survey mentioned at least 4 others.

Funds being what they are, maybe we shouldn't spend energy on A New Hymnal, but on being sure that all our hymns are readily available. Internet downloads for printing in service leaflets, for example.

If "a" new hymnal were published, I shudder to think what it would cost all our congregations to buy copies for the pews.

My bottom line: We are in the midst of some theological and liturgical discussions right now. I don't think hymnal revision should be done in the midst of them, but in a time of peace.

Of course, I wasn't having those thoughts when I completed the SCLM survey. These are just thoughts that are occurring to me afterwards ... sparked by that very fine and thought-provoking survey.

I will be interested to learn of the SCLM's findings, and I will keep an open mind.

God knows and I know that I could be wrong!

12/18/2010 8:37 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

I share your feeling. There is enough flux in TEC right now; I would be hesitant to launch any significant revisions in the BCP or hymnal when conservatives in our church are already feeling so uneasy. It would take a lot to convince me that any big change was warranted.

Profoundly DISAGREE, when it comes to the BCP.

We're still dealing w/ the ill effects of letting the 1928 BCP go WAY past its Sell By Date! That's a big reason WHY we have "conservatives" in the first place: people began treating the church as a DESTINATION, rather than a JOURNEY (pilgrimage---and campaign march, following Christ!)

We've GOT to LET GO any particular Prayer Book (BCPolatry!). It's the PROCESS of revision, we need to commit to (even if some revisions, in hindsight, turn out better than others. The important thing is, within 20-25 years, you can get a better one!)

It's the same process, as having our every-3-years-GCs (don't think there aren't people who'd say "Less often/Never again!" to those, too. ;-/)

In 1928, TEC had had their previous BCP *30* years. THEY knew it was time to revise. We've had the '79 for 31 years, and it's not even on the freakin' agenda to revise it! :-O [Which is why I thought "Cart before the Horse, Much?" when I saw this 82 Hymnal survey---not that I didn't just have a good time completing it!]

Lisa, you're connected (in the TEC power structures): I'm not.

Please, please, PLEASE work for BCP revision: every year we stick w/ the '79---as wonderful as it WAS---is like another earring in the fire, towards making a Golden Cow. I love TEC TOO MUCH to see this happen!

[Note: I'm not saying *one word* about HOW the BCP's revised. Only that it is---after due process and study. (Well: there is ONE revision I feel strongly about---the Marriage Rite (you can do the math 'bout that! ;-D)]

12/21/2010 12:13 AM  
Blogger JCF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/21/2010 12:14 AM  
Blogger JCF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/21/2010 12:14 AM  
Blogger JCF said...

Sorry, had some technical difficulties there! ;-p

12/21/2010 12:16 AM  
Blogger dbdonnell said...

Okay, I took the survey. And I'm proud to say I restrained myself pretty well at "Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?"

I did put in a plug for restoring our classic hymn texts. If the Church seriously needs more neutered hymns and more feel-good songs and more theology-free stuff, let it be freshly written material rather than the product of incompetent fiddling with older texts, done by earnest but tin-eared do-gooders.

12/22/2010 1:54 AM  

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