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More About the New Hymnal
July 2, 2019 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Did you know that among the enthusiastic supporters of the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, is the noted theologian and Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann? Yes, indeed, in his recently published book, A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing (Westminster John Knox Press 2019), he calls the new hymnal “a marvel and a wonder.” What’s more, the book itself was inspired by his participation in a series of regional “launches” for the new hymnal held across the denomination in 2013.
What’s so marvelous and wonderful about the new hymnal? Many things, says Brueggemann. For one, it reflects “in a quite fresh way” the great diversity and scope of the church’s singing around the world. The variety of hymns collected by the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song provides “a serious script, out beyond any sectarian or ideological parochialism,” for singing alongside Christians in other cultures. The hymnal also features new hymns that “move beyond both traditional patriarchal imagination and uncritical triumphalism” as the church takes on a revitalized role in today’s world.
For another, the hymnal reflects the Presbyterian Church’s strong roots in the early Christian church and the Protestant Reformation. The hymnal’s subtitle, Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs, is a phrase from Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. This phrase indicates both that the early church was committed to singing, and that it understood itself to be in continuity with the singing tradition of Judaism in the usage of the Psalter. Later on, Martin Luther, “the great father of congregational singing,” understood that such singing not only creates unity in the body but also offers a particular kind of unity–“a shared act of rendering one’s whole life before the mystery of God.”
For other marvelous and wonderful things about the new hymnal, why not read Brueggemann’s book yourself? Our church library has a copy. It is also available from the PC(USA) Store.
Nadine Roddy, Music Committee Chair