Psalter Hymnal Committee Report

The URCNA Psalter Hymnal Committee completed a very productive and comprehensive meeting, working November 1–3 at the facilities of Faith URC in West Olive, Michigan. The Psalter Hymnal Committee (the Committee) worked through more selections of Psalms, tackled communications from the URC classes on the Hymn Proposal (HP), and dealt with many other matters. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

Psalms

Much of the Committee’s work the last several months has consisted of choosing Psalm songs. Resulting from this meeting, the Committee has now chosen psalm renditions up through Psalm 100. The Committee’s priority is to choose complete texts that are faithful to the words of Scripture, set to singable, appropriate, and beautiful music. The full text of each Psalm is included at least once in the proposal so far, with some secondary versions being included that contain a partial Psalm text or paraphrased version.

Many sources are being consulted for this work, and in keeping with its mandate to produce a new URCNA psalm/hymnbook (as opposed to merely revising or editing the CRC-copyrighted blue Psalter Hymnal), the Committee is drawing from many excellent sources. However, the Committee has been sensitive to especially evaluate the psalms in the blue Psalter Hymnal, and has included some of the best as primary or paraphrase versions.

Hymns. Thanks to each classis submitting Hymn Proposal communications by the October 31 deadline, the Committee was able to begin the second draft of the HP. After organizing these suggestions, the Committee started working on suggested removals. For example, the Committee concurred with the removal of 21 of the 22 hymns that three or more classes suggested be removed, with the 22nd to be discussed at a later meeting. The Committee is very grateful for the work of the churches and classes on the HP, and is working diligently to ensure proper consideration of each communication.

Ecumenical Relations

In keeping with its mandate to consult with churches that the URCNA has entered into corresponding relations, the Committee welcomed Rev. Danny Olinger, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s General Secretary for the Committee on Christian Education, to a portion of the meeting. The OPC’s General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved the motion to work with the URCNA on a joint psalm and hymn book. The URCNA Committee is recommending collaboration with the OPC to Synod 2012 for the purpose of a common psalm and hymn book to be used in a wide array of Reformed churches across the world. Rev. Olinger’s visit was for informational and relational purposes.

Copyright and HP update

Now that the second draft of the HP has commenced, the Committee requests that churches discard all of their Hymn Proposals. Songs in the HP that are covered under CCLI license can continue to be used by churches which have purchased a license.

Looking Ahead

The Committee continues to work faithfully on the psalms and hymns through online meetings, asynchronous collaboration online, and regular face-to-face meetings. Online meetings (via Skype) take place every three to four weeks, with asynchronous online work taking place in between meetings. The next face-to-face meeting of the Committee is planned for Spring 2012, Lord willing.

For more information on the Psalter Hymnal Committee and its work, visit the FAQ section of the URCNA Psalter Hymnal Committee Public Page at www.URCNA.org

Submitted by the URCNA Psalter Hymnal Committee:
Rev. Randal Lankheet, Chairman (Classis Southern Ontario)
Mrs. Angeline Vanderboom, Secretary
Prof. Scott Finch (Classis Western Canada)
Rev. Christopher Folkerts (Classis Pacific Northwest)
Mrs. Denise Marcusse (Classis Michigan)
Mr. Joel Pearce (Classis Eastern U.S.)
Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen (Classis Southwest U.S.)
Mr. Daniel Zylstra (Classis Central U.S.)

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