Sunday, October 13, 2019

Interesting and ambitious. . .

According to the WELS site, things are rapidly moving from research and surveys into pre-production mode for the new hymnal the Wisconsin Synod is producing to replace Christian Worship (1993).  What I find interesting is the scope of the project and the many accompanying volumes envisioned.

So, the Scripture Committee is moving on to the second major component of its work. The committee is busy producing a series of books entitled “Commentary on the Propers,” volumes that will expand on the previously published “Planning Christian Worship” by providing 4-5 pages of comments per Sunday/festival, showing the common thread that runs through the appointed readings. These comments will give tremendously helpful direction to preachers, worship planners, and musicians.

They expect to provide melody only for the hymns -- except for the print edition.  Because of this the hymnal will have a very large accompaniment edition.  The Accompaniment Edition for the hymns is slated to be a two-volume set totaling 1500 pages, formatted on 8.5X11 pages, with notation scaled larger for ease of reading on the music stand. (This is the format for all of the accompaniment editions.) An additional, separate accompaniment volume for the hymns is also slated to be produced: Accompaniment for Hymns—Simplified.

Although only 62 Psalms will appear in the printed hymnal, more will be available in accompanying volumes.  A separate, self-standing psalter of approximately 700 pages will include the full texts of all 150 psalms, with an average of two or three different musical settings of each psalm. The Psalter will feature approximately 450 psalm settings. These settings will have a much greater diversity of style than the one style that appeared in our current hymnal. A psalm with a refrain and chanted verses is referred to as a responsorial psalm. Six to eight different styles of musical settings will appear in the new Psalter. Each of the 150 psalms will have at least one responsorial setting and one metrical paraphrase (Christian Worship #238 is a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 103). The Accompaniment Edition for the psalter is slated to be a two-volume set totaling 1000 pages.

An Agenda will certainly be published.  This is the volume that includes rites frequently used by the pastor on special occasions such as the installation of a church council, the installation of a teacher, reception of new members, confirmation, etc. This volume and most of the other seventeen volumes are slated to be released simultaneously with the new hymnal, ready to be used for Advent 2021.  I expect that this will include a pocket edition as well as large volume, although it is not specifically noted in the WELS information.

A whole host of support volumes will be published for a variety of audiences.  I am not at all sure what all will be included.  But four manuals are being written to support the new worship books of the WELS hymnal project. The four manuals will treat topics aimed at four audiences – pastors; musicians; congregational groups; lay devotions.  Finally, a handbook to the hymnal will reproduce material certainly already available on the hymns from CW but it will be supplemented with material on the 200 or so hymns new to WELS congregations.  The current book that includes the background story for the hymns and the biographies for all of the authors and composers of the hymns was entitled: “Christian Worship: Handbook.” That comprehensive volume is being updated and will appear as an online resource.

In the end, the WELS Hymnal Project is anticipated to include print books numbering a total of approximately seventeen volumes.  That is impressive.  Remember that the WELS is small (359K in baptized membership, 286K in communicant membership, and 1270 or so congregations).  The financial investment is beyond compare for such a small body and yet it can be made because, if typical, the new hymnal will be purchased by nearly all congregations -- something not seen in other Lutheran bodies (except Missouri, which has seen LSB overwhelmingly adopted). 

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I hope they fix the translation error they made in the Nicene Creed and restore the full text of Luther's Catechism, where last time they cut the sign of the cross from the daily prayers.

Anonymous said...

I think it sounds like a lot of moving parts for a church body that is incorporating more “contemporary worship”. All the churches may buy it, but I would be surprised if they all use it. Also, the people who have been allowed to see the newer parts is pretty limited which always makes me curious. Why can’t they tell us if they changed the Nicene Creed back?