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Content about Hymns

June 1, 2010

"You are holding an unusual hymnal! The texts here are not grouped by theme, season of the year, or order of worship. Rather, they are presented in chronological order by text, beginning with a sampling of Old Testament psalms and continuing right up to songs written in the past few years. Paging through this book, then, is like taking a 3,000-year journey through the songs of God’s people.”

June 1, 2010

The following article, along with parts 2 and 3 to be published in later issues, though not typical for Reformed Worship, is well worth spending some time on. Pastors, musicians, and worship planners alike can benefit from considering the pairing of text and tune and the challenges that arise from a plethora of choices. In addition, several denominations are in the process of developing new hymnbooks for congregational song.

September 1, 2009

Many hymnals have a large section devoted to Christmas. In actual practice, this section gets used throughout Advent (thereby shortchanging the character of Advent). If you take a few moments to page through the Christmas carols and hymns in almost any hymnal, you’ll find that narrative and folksy, sentimental lyrics easily outweigh songs with a theological treatment of the meaning of Christ’s incarnation.

December 1, 2008

This article originally appeared in the March issue of Fidelia’s Sisters, a magazine for and about young clergy women (www.youngclergywomen.org) and is reprinted with their permission.

June 1, 2008

In her book Stilling the Storm (2006, The Alban Institute. Available at www.FaithAliveResources.org), Kathleen Smith sings the praises of the “intentional interim pastor.” This person can greatly assist a church that is transitioning from a long pastorate that has ended well, recovering from a ministry that has ended poorly, or regrouping after the senior pastor of a multi-staff church leaves.

June 1, 2007

This article is reprinted from The Stanza, Fall 2006, © 2006 The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (www.thehymnsociety.org). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Three times, recently, I was aurally assaulted in a church building: once at a concert, twice at services. The weapons were large pipe organs, and the penetrating device was most specifically 32-foot pedal pipes. Each time I had been invited to “sing along” as part of a group that then became engulfed, no, drowned in ear-splitting sonorities.

June 1, 2007

It is peculiarly human to sing, and to sing together. It is a heartening exercise when done communally on a theme you believe in, as the protest marchers for civil rights understood in the ’60s with “We Shall Overcome.” Such singing was not the same as Doo-wop entertainment or pop songs with the Supremes orchestrated by the Motown machine. Street singing had a different cachet too than Fanny Crosby’s old-time revival hymns. If you yourself enter a non-professional group singing a song that is solid and well-known, it invigorates you.

June 1, 2007

Although this service was used for the dedication of Sing! A New Creation, it could also be used as a pattern for the dedication of other songbooks, or simply as a stand-alone service on Psalm 98. A lay person read the Psalm passages and an elder read the prayers. —JH

Reading: Psalm 67:3

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Reading: Psalm 98:1

Songs
“Sing a New Song” SNC 1, WR 10
“We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise” CH 213, SNC 12, WR 651

June 1, 2007

Sometimes I’m asked to speak on the topic of recovering congregational singing. So I ask the question “What’s wrong?” The conversation goes like this:

“Apparently people are not singing like they used to.”

“Why?”

“We’re not exactly sure, but we’d sure like to have some tools to improve the situation.”

March 1, 2007

It was an ordinary Sunday morning for the church in Obala, a village 40 kilometers from Cameroon’s capital city of Yaoundé. But for me it was anything but ordinary as I witnessed the evangelical power of singing that called people to worship the triune God.

March 1, 2007

Our church follows the seasons of the Christian year and the lectionary Scripture passages, changing banners and colors accordingly. When we planned a service called “Singing Through the Christian Year,” it provided us with the opportunity to “walk through” the Christian year in one evening and to reprise many of the choir anthems we had learned and used in services over the past year.

March 1, 2007

In August 2006, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship sponsored an amazing trip to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore. Nine Institute staff members, myself included, spent a month meeting with worshiping communities there.

September 5, 2005

Roger Bergs offers fresh treatments of three traditional hymns, one each for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. On these pages, Bergs, a published composer, not only provides arrangements for piano and/or organ or choir, but also offers them without charge to Reformed Worship and to our readers—a generous gift! We did not have room to include all the music, and some of what we did provide is too small for easy reading. To print your own copy of this music (PDF), please click here.

December 4, 2004
My Jesus, I Love Thee

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December 3, 2003

Editor’s note: In popular usage, the word hymn can refer to the text only (typical in England), to text and tune only, or to the whole combination of text and music. In this article, the desire to return to old hymns is to return to the older texts, sometimes also the tunes, but definitely not the sounds of traditional hymns. Old hymn texts are finding new life in contemporary musical settings.

December 2, 2002

For dozens of generations, hymns have been the mainstay of worship music. Christians have praised with them, prayed with them . . . and played with them. Good pastoral musicians have always played around with hymn arrangements, seeking creative expression and the best liturgical effect. And of course, texts and tunes are made to mix and match.

September 2, 2002

I-to Loh and Pablo Sosa are highly respected authorities on congregational song, I-to Loh on Asian hymnody, and Pablo Sosa on songs from Latin America. We’re thrilled that both are planning to come to the 2003 Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, and they’re looking forward to seeing each other again—previously they’ve worked together in international ecumenical conferences, including the World Council of Churches. Here is a brief introduction to both.

The Hymns of I-to Loh
September 1, 2001

The commentary combines song notes found in the Leader’s Edition of Sing! A New Creation and additional comments by Emily R. Brink, editor of Reformed Worship. The song notes were written by a team of writers and edited by Ron Rienstra, associate editor of Reformed Worship.



Advent
God of Justice, Ever Flowing

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March 1, 2001
God, You Call Us to This Place
Creation Sings! Each Plant and Tree
You Are Crowned with Many Crowns
Santo Espíritu, excelsa paloma/Holy Spirit,
from Heaven Descended
June 1, 2000

Some weddings are primarily a dialogue between the wedding couple and the presiding minister, but it needn’t be so. Inviting the gathered wedding guests to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” provides a corporate opportunity to express musical praise for God’s love to us, to offer sung prayers for the wedding couple, and to encourage everyone to practice the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love.

March 1, 2000
CLAP YOUR HANDS, ALL YOU NATIONS

The celebration of Christ's ascension comes late in the year 2000, not until Thursday, June 1. Most churches will probably observe the event on the following Sunday, June 4.

September 1, 1999

All but one of the songs in this issue were included as part of service plans outlined in this issue of Reformed Worship. “My Soul in Stillness Waits” was sung as the opening hymn of every service during the Advent series from Hope Christian Reformed Church, Thunder Bay, Ontario (see p. 3). “O Gladsome Light” was recommended for the New Year’s Eve service plans (see p. 34). “Miren qué bueno¡” was sung at the joint English/Spanish service at West End Presbyterian Church in New York City (see p. 24).

June 1, 1999

According to the Revised Common Lectionary, most of the Sundays from September through November fall under the general heading “Ordinary Time.” This designation is not meant to imply that these weeks represent an unimportant part of the Christian year. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Ordinary Time is a valuable reminder that the Christian life is an everyday vocation and is not reserved simply for special occasions.

June 1, 1999

The gospel came to us as a potted plant. We have to break the pot and set the plant in our own soil.

— D. T. Niles

March 1, 1999

The liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter take lots of time and energy. By the time Ascension Day and Pentecost come around, sometimes our energy is waning. The school year is coming to a close, choirs are finishing up, and we are looking forward to the freer time of summer. Suddenly Ascension Day is upon us. Since Ascension Day and Pentecost are two of the major religious holidays of the year, they deserve some special musical attention.