David at Per Christum points to something I’d missed. There’s a new resolution coming to General Convention concerning a new hymnal. Now, we don’t need to hyperventilate yet—it’s looking at approval in 2015 for a 2018 publication date.
It is time, however, to consider what a revised hymnal might contain. The impetus for the change is stated this way:
The world of this new millennium is very different from that of the prior century, when The Hymnal 1982 and its predecessors were created. Rapid liturgical, cultural and technological change continue to have an impact on the lives of all the faithful. A study of the need for a new hymnal for the Episcopal Church would explore sensitivity to expansive language, the diversity of worship styles, the richness of multicultural and global liturgical forms, and the enduring value of our Anglican musical heritage.
The primary message that I get from this paragraph given its emphasis on a new millennium, rapid changes, rapid development, etc. is a drive for “new” things. The four central criteria:
- “sensitivity to expansive language”
- “diversity of worship styles”
- “richness of multicultural and global liturgical forms”
- “enduring value of our Anglican musical heritage”
also move in that direction, the last being the only nod to continuity; everything else is oriented towards change.
I’m currently “studying”—or perhaps “receiving”—this resoltion and considering what may be a helpful response to it. Several things come to mind.
1. Th current hymnal(s) paradigm—will it stay or will it go?
Currently, we have the ’82 hymnal—the normative hymnal—and two books that I regard as supplemental that meet certain perceived needs in the church: Lift Every Voice and Sing and Wonder, Love and Praise.
What will happen with a new normative hymnal? Will the supplements be rolled into it or will they be retained and, perhaps, strengthened or also re-issued?
2. Ecumenical Activity—how’s that working out for you?
Since the Great Liturgical Leap Forward following Vatican II, we’re now on our second generational of hymnals. There are lessons to be learned if we’re willing to ask the hard questions and take long looks at some sacred cows. Has our method of including multicultral hymns been effective; have they infomed our spirituality and worship styles? Which are the sucesses, which the failures, and what do we learn from this?
The Lutherans have just introduced a new hymnal which seems to incorporate these very same principles (only altering the proper adjective in point 4). What can we learn about how these changes have been received, and whether they were done well or ill?
What’s going on in Roman territory? The most interesting developments I’ve seen are a move away from hymnody at mass and back to the chant propers. However, you’ll note that the Parish Book of Chant—the hymnal of choice for the Reform of the Reform—has no propers in it; they’re in the Gregorian Missal which is intended for the choir/schola, not the congregation. What it does have is ordinary chants for the mass.
Which raises yet another issue…
3. Mass Settings
Will the new hymnal have new service music in it as well, and if so, what form will that take? I know the kind of things I’d like to see, of course…
My current thoughts—subject to further input and reflection, of course—look something like this:
- I doubt this is a train that will be stopping. Barring something unforeseen there will be a new hymnal come 2018. And it will implent at least the first three criteria above. I sincerely hope the fourth will be respected as well.
- I’m of a mind to advocate for a spectrum of resources: one normative hymnal and a set of supplements that augment it.
- Given that, I’d recommend a supplement that is directed towards a traditionalist/Anglo-Catholic constituency that would include chant settings for mass and office, the breviary hymns, and, to best fit with Rite I services, a selection of “traditional-language” hymns. I.e., hymns with words un-fooled-around-with.
- Chant propers could either be included or be done separately in an “anthem” book.