It’s time for a new hymnal

A facebook conversation got me thinking: it’s time.

It’s been more than two decades since our last hymnal update, and though Singing the Living Tradition is generally well-liked and in wide use among UU congregations, it’s time.

Twenty years ago, few if any UU congregations were projecting hymn lyrics. Twenty years ago, the Internet was still a new-fangled thing for most people. Twenty years ago, tablet computers weren’t even a dream.

And now? The most recent hymnal from the Presbyterian church is not only available in the traditional paper format, but also comes in online (fully indexed, with recorded versions of hymns!), projection-ready, and e-book formats. What I wouldn’t give for all three of those right now. Retrofitting our old hymnal to be able to do these is nearly impossible, I’m told; it would mean renegotiating many rights agreements, for one thing, which makes it difficult enough we might as well just make a new hymnal anyway.

So why don’t we? Yes, it’s a huge job. Yes, it’s not the most pressing issue in the world, perhaps. But this is the work. Our liturgy is literally the work of the people, and great worship is central to great religious communities. It’s time. It’s time to include more recent music, it’s time to update our readings, it’s time to move into the 21st-century in our technology.

It’s time.

I’m sure I’m not the first to say this; indeed, I hear rumors of rumors that the pre-planning for a new hymnal is under way already. (Or maybe that’s just a rumor.) Let’s do this thing.

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  1. […] wrote last week that it’s time for a new hymnal, so it’s only fair that I (start to) answer the question of what a replacement would be. I […]



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