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A New Presbyterian Hymnal

 In the fall of 2013 a new hymnal will be in the pews of Wayne Presbyterian Church.  The new hymnal, entitled Glory to God, will replace the blue Presbyterian Hymnal currently in use by the church which was published in 1990.  The Presbyterian Church has generally developed a new hymnal once a generation.

In the early days of the American colonies, the governing bodies of Presbyterians left all decisions about whether to sing hymns or psalms as part of worship up to the individual congregation. As a result, a variety of psalters and hymnals were used by the young congregations.  Most of these hymn collections contained no music, but text only.  Few people were musically literate.  In an attempt to correct this situation, singing schools were established from which a desire for new tunes and new music grew.  By 1800 there were over 130 different collections of tune books in print.   This meant that worshippers needed to hold two books: one for the music, the other for the text.   Hymnals as we know them today with text and tune printed together, did not appear until after the Civil War.

Presbyterians resisted efforts at publishing an official denominational hymnal until 1819.  Psalms and Hymns Adapted to the Public Worship which was first printed in 1830, became the first official American Presbyterian hymnal in 1831.  This first hymnal still contained text without music.

A schism in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America known as The Old School-New School Controversy began to erupt in 1837.  In time issues related to slavery brought about the further division of both the Old School and New School into north and south.  In 1865 after three decades of separate operation, the two sides of the controversy merged in the south and in 1870 in the north, to form united Presbyterian churches.  The north and south divisions would remain until the 1980s!

1874: The Presbyterian Hymnal was published by the newly reunited "Old" and "New" schools under the direction of a committee of five headed by Joseph T. Duryea.

1895: Louis Benson, one of the foremost hymnologists in America, edited The Hymnal, published by authority of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. This hymnal was revised in 1911.

1933: The General Assembly of the PCUSA authorized a new hymnal. Clarence Dickinson was the Editor of The Hymnal that is still in use in some Presbyterian churches in the United States, and was the hymnal in use at Wayne Presbyterian Church until the early 1990s.

1955: The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States appointed a committee in 1950 for the production of the new hymnal.  Five American denominations of the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition joined in the production of what became The Hymnbook published in 1955.  Wayne Presbyterian Church never adopted this hymnal.

1972: The Worshipbook: Services and Hymns was published as a joint project of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Wayne Presbyterian Church never adopted this hymnal.  The hymns in this hymnal were unwisely placed in alphabetical order instead of liturgical season.

1990: The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or PCUSA, is part of the Reformed tradition and is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. The PCUSA was established by the 1983 merger of the former Presbyterian Church in the United States, whose churches were located in the Southern and border states, with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, whose congregations could be found in every state. The General Assemblies of 1980 and 1983 directed that a hymnal be developed "using inclusive language and sensitive to the diverse nature" of the church. Work began in 1985 on this, the first hymnal of the newly united denomination.  The result of the project was The Presbyterian Hymnal which is currently the hymnal in use at Wayne Presbyterian Church.

The 217th General Assembly (2006) authorized the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation to research, develop, and produce a new hymnal. The PPC assumed all costs for the development and production of the hymnal, including the expenses of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS). No money was spent from the denomination's budget to produce the new hymnal, Glory to God.  

On Friday & Saturday, October 18 & 19, 2013, Wayne Presbyterian Church will host the first of six events to be held across America introducing Glory to God, the new Presbyterian hymnal to the denomination.  Walter Brueggemann is among the guest speakers.  There is a $50 registration fee to attend the event which includes meals and a copy of the new hymnal.   

Posted by Jeff Fowler at 12:40 PM
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