I am writing today to express gratitude for the article in the March/April edition of The Outlook written by Mrs. Sheila Ypma regarding the proposed URCNA hymnal. I’d also like to thank Mrs. Ypma for her hard work, the countless hours spent, and for sharing her concerns over the changes made to so many of the songs, specifically relating to the gender-inclusive language.
With this article as a springboard, I began doing some investigating of my own. I have looked into the original mandate to the hymnal committee and find that in several areas they seem to be going well beyond synod’s parameters. Nowhere does their mandate say that they were asked to removed “archaic” language, to add or remove stanzas, or to change words referring to the male gender—not only for humans, but also for God. Even there, they have been inconsistent, and it seems that in their inconsistency, they have in reality voided their rationale for making the changes at all. For if children or new believers can be expected to sing and understand archaic language in one song, why not in another? And if the gender is allowed to remain unchanged in one hymn, why must it be removed in the next?
There is so much beauty, richness, and depth of meaning in these songs that we find now have been altered. Having grown up in the CRC, I find within these songs a shared history with saints who have gone before us—our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents—and we know many of the songs from memory. In fact, we have often seen young children sitting around us in church, too young to read, that are singing these rich songs along with us. Do they understand them yet? Most likely not; yet these songs will live in their hearts and minds for many years and become part of their spiritual heritage, as they have ours.
My family recently joined the URC because over the years the denomination to which we belonged at the time—both in its doctrine and music—has become more and more watered-down in order to be “seeker-friendly.” We are so blessed to be singing again the dear songs we grew up with as we offer praise to our Heavenly Father, which makes it very difficult for us to accept the changes that are being proposed for the new hymnal.
Thank you, again, to The Outlook and Mrs. Ypma for this informative article; we look forward to the follow-up articles on the proposed hymnbook.