ELCA synod leaders prepare to introduce 'Evangelical Lutheran Worship'
My national church body is an the verge of publishing a new hymnal. I've read that there is some controversy about the new hymnal, which, in some respects has seemed a bit strange to me because some of the people with 'issues' haven't seen this book because it hadn't yet been published when they were complaining.
Our church has used some of the liturgical prayers and some of the hymns from the trial material. The hymns were fine, but, of course, I don't know how representative they are. Our church likes to use music from a variety of cultural backgrounds, so this was nothing revolutionary for us. We are currently using hymns from the ELCA's green book, blue book, maroon book [African American hymnal], modern RC hymns composed by Lutherans, as well as occasional hymns from the Family of God hymnal.
Regarding the liturgy and prayers, well....it seemed that if you liked to say something with 5 words instead of two, then the new prayers were for you. But again, I don't know how representative this is of the book as a whole. The pastor that was using those prayers also preached in the same mode.
I've read through the whole trial edition of the new hymnal. I didn't see anything in there that was all that revolutionary. I did see that it says it contains quite a bit from our old green hymnal.
I'm wondering why would we want to put money into a new hymnal if we already have these other resources? Our books aren't worn out. Sure, it might be nice to have the same hymnal in all ELCA churches so that there is something familiar when a person is visiting.
Here's another thought if a church has some money to spend on their music program: send the organist and pianist to some of the sessions to learn more about the new music. Help them to become acquainted with and learn to play music from some of the other cultures that are represented in the new hymnal. Help them learn to play the liturgy and the hymns of praise as they are meant to be played.
I'm not trying to make a blanket negative judgment about church organists. I'm reacting to some things I've experienced and heard. For example, when we were using the green hymnal exclusively, our very accomplished organist played the hymns of praise in a praiseful, glorious way, but I've heard them played like funeral dirges in other churches. Our organist said that she went to the sessions introducing the green hymnal and learned how these pieces were meant to be played and sung. When the blue book was introduced, she played most of that music on the piano. She said that much of that music, which our church really likes, isn't written as organ music.
Maybe the leadership for musical issues isn't entirely with the church's musicians, if the pastors are picking the liturgy and hymns. There are churches that still use only the green hymnal. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, it does seem like only shopping at the same store for 20 years.