David P. Schaap and John Worst, editors. New Brunswick: Selah Publishing Company, 1989. $8.75 soft cover; $12.00 hard cover. Available from Selah Publishing Co. P.O. Box 103, Accord, NY 12404; 1-800-852-6172
Songs of Rejoicing was the brainchild of David Schaap while still a student at Calvin College. One of his music professors, John Worst, encouraged him, and after graduation, the two of them set out to produce this hymnal. Schaap not only solicited existing hymns for this collection, but also commissioned new hymns, then selected and edited them with John Worst.
Schaap typeset the songs himself, mastering the latest computer technology for music typesetting (Finale on Macintosh) and then began a publishing company to produce and market this and other products. David Schaap is Selah Publishing Company. ("Selah" appears often in the psalms; the meaning of the word is unknown, but some think it is a musical term, perhaps giving direction for how the psalm is to be sung or performed on instruments.)
Songs of Rejoicing contains 254 hymns for worship by a wide variety of contributors, including the best-known names in contemporary hymnody as well as names appearing in print for the first time. As I worked through this collection, I kept jotting down ideas for hymns to use with my own choir. The collection is a treasure of fresh and new hymns for worship.
It deserves wide use as a choral or congregation hymnal supplement. Well-known text contributors include Margaret Clarkson (5 texts), Carl P. Daw, Jr. (16), Timothy Dudley-Smith (13), Fred Pratt Green (12), Gracia Grindal (4), and Brian Wren (12). Over two hundred of the texts were written in the last twenty years, and the older texts are given new musical settings.
The music is equally fresh and new. Over 90 percent was composed in the last twenty years, and many of the older tunes have new harmonizations. Over fifty composers are listed, including such diverse musicians as Michael Card, Carol Doran, Erik Routley, and Carlton Young. Several relatively new names stand out because of multiple contributions: AnnaMae Bush (17), Rusty Edwards (11), Alfred Fedak (20), Dale Groten-huis (8), Deborah Holden-Holloway (8), Roy Hopp (17), Joe Pinson (15), Cary Ratcliff (14), Don Robinson (9), William P. Rowan (16), Dorothy Sheets (5), and James Ward (5).
The styles range from traditional to folk; included are contemporary Christian music (including pianistic accompaniments), songs appropriate for children (noted by the symbol C on the page), and some traditional service music in fresh new settings.
The songs are arranged in sections of Hymns for the Church Year (38), Biblical Songs (31), Hymns for the Church in the World (74), Hymns for the Church at Worship (83), Solo Section (12), and Choral Section (17). All the usual indexes are included, plus a listing of songs for children, Scripture references, and a good topical index.
Schaap has continued his publishing venture by providing collections of hymn tunes by two of the composers listed above. The Alfred V. Fedak Hymnary (33 tunes) and The Roy Hopp Hymnary (35 tunes) offer access to some of the new tunes by talented composers working in the Reformed tradition. Schaap has also published three collections of organ music by Alfred Fedak, and one by Sue Mitchell-Wallace. Watch for more good music from this new publishing company.