For my introductory week, my next hymnal of choice is The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration, a non-denominational book published by Word Music.
I first encountered this hymnal (link to hymnary.org) at my cousin's wedding a few years back , and again at a visit to a church in Hale, Michigan.
It starts of fairly simple, with "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" and "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing", but right away, one noticeable change is the use of Mark Andrews' tune for "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" instead of the more familiar John Goss tune; even more oddly, "Regent Square" (the tune most commonly associated with "Angels from the Realms of Glory") is suggested as an alternate. The praise section continues in relative normalcy, outside the inclusion of Brent Chambers' "Be Exalted, O God", an early and lesser-known entry into praise songs. Speaking of praise songs, there are several of them in here, most of which don't really merit much discussion. For that reason, this review may be considerably shorter than usual.
Names from the 1960s and 1970s are numerous in this book, such as Andraé Crouch, John W. Peterson, Ralph Carmichael, Kurt Kaiser, Twila Paris, and the Gaithers. And yes, the dreary "They'll Know We Our Christians by Our Love". More surprising is "The Battle Belongs to the Lord", which I will forever associate with my last trip to a men's retreat: a four-piece band, with a lead singer/keyboardist who clearly had a sore throat and was hoarsely mumbling his way through this song and some other downright bizarre song that had "battling for God" imagery and even a couple shouts of "semper fi".
Otherwise, the selection of hymns has a great deal of feel-good stuff from the 19th and early 20th centuries, with tunes such as "God Leads Us Along", "The Love of God" (Lehman), "One Day", "The Old Rugged Cross", etc. (Overall the collection is very similar in content to Sing Joyfully, the hymnal currently used at the Baptist church I play for.)
"Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned" (text by Samuel Stennett, tune by Thomas Hastings) is an older one I've not encountered before, but it' an enjoyable one. There's also Cyrus Nusbaum's "His Way with Thee", which to me has a revival feel that I find enjoyable. The selection of older material is otherwise nothing overly special, but sufficiently varied for those who like the "newer" oldies. If you're like me and you like "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms", then you might like most of the 19th- and early 20th-century stuff here. (Okay, they do go a bit older with "Jesus, Priceless Treasure." Points there.)
One unusual tune-text mismatch is "Take Time to Be Holy" shoehorned into Slane, instead of the usual tune by George Stebbins, even if that one is there too. Slane's phrasing just does not fit those words at all. Surprisingly, "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" is set only to "Dominus Regit Me" by John B. Dykes, whereas I would've found "St. Columba" better for the sake of familiarity and flavor.
The lesser-known tune for "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" by Adam Geibel, which I had thought had fallen out of favor decades ago, is included. It's a good four pages from the more familiar George Webb tune, as the latter is in the middle of a medley. (See below for more on the medleys.)
There are also several rounds, including a rewrite of "Dona Nobis Pacem" that also paraphrases Isiah 6:3, Jimmy Owens' "Make a Joyful Noise" and "Clap Your Hands", etc. Another round pads out the verses of "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" to shoehorn them into Tallis's Canon. Yet another is a "paraphrase" of Psalm 139 that outside of the last line ("Lead me, o Lord, in your everlasting way!") is outright plagiarism of J. Edwin Orr's "Cleanse Me". Gerald S. Henderson also inverts Isaac Watts' "Am I a Soldier of the Cross" ("I am a soldier of the cross"), and oddly, it's credited as if the two wrote it, instead of one altering the other. Rounds can be fine at a camp or Sunday school, but I feel that they seem too minimalistic for a congregation.
The "abridged" version of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" is included, where only the refrain is sung ad nauseam to various "traditional" words such as "We'll give Him all the glory". (I hate it when we only do this instead of the full "O Come, All Ye Faithful".)
While I've seen "Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation" set to a couple different tunes, "Regent Square" has never been one that I've seen before.
Perhaps the most baffling inclusion in this book is the Hallelujah Chorus. Spanning a whopping six pages, does this piece really stand a chance of a decent rendition by a congregation?!
Speaking of congregational confusion: as fun as "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" is, I feel that its decision to relegate the melody to the left hand is confusing to congregations, who are wondering why the stuff in the melody line suddenly isn't matching up. (This actually happened the last time we tried to sing it.) The wide range of Albert Hay Malotte's "The Lord's Prayer" may seem like a stretch for a congregation too, but I have a very small elderly congregation who insisted that we sing it every Sunday, and they pull it off just fine.
Various prayer responses, benedictions, and doxologies close out the hymnnal, logically enough.
For a non-denominational hymnal by a specific publishing company with its own stable of writers, the book is surprisingly light on original material. One of the few new texts is "Lavish Love, Abundant Beauty" by Peter Ells, set to "Hyfrydol". Lilly Green also offers a somewhat syncopated "Hallowed Be the Name", which has little to say.
One of the more interesting "original" compositions is Linda Lee Johnson, Claire Cloninger, and Tom Fettke's addition of three verses to the traditional chorus "He Is Lord". As often as these short choruses show up, I can't say I've seen someone try to write verses around them before.
Andrew Culverwell's "Come On, Ring Those Bells" is as silly as its title sounds.
"At the Name of Jesus" is set not to the usual Ralph Vaughan Williams melody, but to a new "modern" tune by Ronn Huff.
While "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is included as usual, much later in the "Second Coming" section, it appears again with the newly-written "O Come, Messiah, come again" verse by Vann Trapp, who seems to have never written anything else. (Sing Joyfully just appends this to the existing hymn instead of setting it out separately.)
Margaret Clarkson's "So Send I You" is included twice: the original five verses, and the later "By Grace Made Strong". Instad of setting both to John W. Peterson's tune, as I've so often seen done, the latter is set to a new tune by Kurt Kaiser. Both also suggest Finlandia as an alternate.
Buryl Red's "In Rememberance" is also included. I had thought this was more modern, given its inclusion in the 2000 Faith We Sing, but it turns out to be from 1972.
Danna Harkins' rhyme-less paraphrase of Psalm 42 is present, set to the 4/4 version of O Waly Waly (here misidentified as Appalachian; odd that Michael James stretched it to 4/4 in the same way Hal Hopson did!).
Oddly, "All Things Bright and Beautiful" is ripped from its usual tune, given a couple extra syllables in some lines, and shoeorned into a new tune by Sonny Salbury. The original tune is just fine, as it keeps a constant meter, which this alteration does not.
Various other new texts offer nothing as eye-rolling as "For One Great Peace", as world-concerned as anything by Fred Pratt Green, as clumsy as "To a Maid Engaged to Joseph", as interesting as "God of the sparrow God of the Whale", as polarizing as "Earth and All Stars!", or as rage-inducing in certain circles as anything by Marty Haugen. They're either mediocre to decent, and for that reason alone, probably one of the better hymnals when it comes to originality.
Okay, there is one doozy: "Reach Your Hand" by Kurt Kaiser: "Stretch our arms so very much, that if we try our fingers touch / And when they do, we'll know it's true that you love me and I love you." No mention of God until verse 3.
Perhaps this hymnal's most interesting and useful facet is the fact that several songs are deliberately positioned for use as medleys, using select verses of each. They are enhanced with a reading at the beginning, a piano/organ intro, interludes where key changes are needed, and optional choral endings as well. The medleys are, in order of appearance:
1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; Praise the Lord! Ye Heavens, Adore Him ("Austria" by Haydn); O Worship the King
2. Glorify Thy Name; How Majestic Is Your Name; Great Is the Lord (see what I said about these two always being back-to-back?)
3. Lead Me, Lord; The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want (Crimond); Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; O God, Our Help in Ages Past
4. May Jesus Chris Be Praised; Fairest Lord Jesus; Our Great Savior
5. There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth (refrain only); His Name Is Wonderful; There's Something About That Name; Blessed Be the Name
6. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus (Hyfrydol), Joy to the World
7. Angels, from the Realms of Glory; Angels We Have Heard on High; Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
8. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly; How Great Our Joy!: O Come, All Ye Faithful; For Unto Us a Child Is Born (Handel)
9. Beneath the Cross of Jesus; In the Cross of Christ I Glory; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (Hamburg)
10. I Know a Fount; Nothing but the Blood (yes, just two, and since it's D and G, there's no need for even a transition other than a lone D7 chord)
11. Grace Greater Than Our Sin; Amazing Grace; And Can It Be?
12. Alleluia, Alleluia! (Christopher Wordsworth, altered; set to "Ode to Joy"); "Christ Arose"; "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today".
13. O Breath of Life (Joel Blomquist); God of Grace and God of Glory; Rise Up, o Church of God
14. I Love Thee (anonymous text; tune from Ingalls' Christian Harmony — where'd this come from?!); More Love to Thee; My Jesus, I Love Thee
15. O to Be Like Thee!; I Would Be Like Jesus; More About Jesus
16. The Solid Rock (awkwardly, the familiar William Bradbury tune is part of the medley, while the lesser-known setting of it to the tune of the Marines' Hymn comes just before said medley); My Faith Has Found a Resting Place; My Hope Is in the Lord
17. All the Way My Savior Leads Me; He Leadeth Me; Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
18. Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus; Soldiers of Christ, Arise; Onward, Christian Soldiers
19. Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace (Vivian Kretz); It Is Well with My Soul; Like a River Glorious
20. Jesus Is All the World to Me; Now I Belong to Jesus; My Savior's Love; O How He Loves You and Me
21. He the Pearly Gates Will Open; When We All Get to Heaven; When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder
22. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come; For the Beauty of the Earth; We Gather Together
Another medley suggestion is alternating between the two melodies for "Redeemed": one by A. L. Butler, and the more familiar one by William J. Kirkpatrick. Also suggested is taking Carrie Breck's "Face to Face" and merging it with Fanny Crosby's "Saved by Grace" (only a refrain here, but I'm sure there's more to it).
I actually find this an excellent inclusion, as it seems a great way to incorporate several favorites at once, or otherwise imbue greater variety in a service.
Other hymns with optional choral codas (read: "almost always key changes"), but not in medleys:
* How Great Thou Art
* I Sing the Mighty Power of God
* We Will Glorify
* O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
* Alleluia (Jerry Sinclair)
* Hosanna, Loud Hosanna
* Hallelujah, What a Savior!
* Because He Lives
* Jesus Shall Reign
* Crown Him with Many Crowns
* Come, Thou Almighty King
* Faith of Our Fathers
* Take My Life and Let It Be
* Lead On, O King Eternal
* God of Our Fathers
Omissions and additions
One of the few stranger abridgements is taking only the refrain of "Day Is Dying in the West" and titling it "Isaiah 6:3". "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" gets a similar trim, and then has a random introduction tacked back on! "There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth" is trimmed to only its refrain too, but I know this only because the tune name says "refrain only" after it; I've never seen this tune before, and would like to know the rest of it!
Also getting hacked down to its refrain are "The King Is Coming" and "The Family of God", both Gaither tunes. Isn't the whole point of Gaither material that it's easy enough for congregations? The syncopated verses of "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying" are MIA as well.
Although the rest of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is included as usual, one line from the last verse ("O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray / Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today") is fitted to a new tune by William David Young and titled "A Nativity Prayer". This seems absolutely redundant. Similarly, the last verse of "In the Bleak Midwinter" is isolated and set to a new tune by Don Cason, although in this case, the rest of the corresponding text is (sadly) absent.
"Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light" has a second verse by Joseph Barlowe tacked on, its flow clearly different from the original ("Although the King of Kings is He / He comes in deep humility / His people to deliver / And reign in us forever").
"Our God Reigns" has the usually-omitted verses ("It was our sin and guilt that bruised and wounded Him" and "Meek as a lamb that's led out to the slaughterhouse").
"O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" is included twice: once in full form which fits it to Ebenezer; and an abridged form that fits it to Bunessan (aka "Morning Has Broken"). I honestly feel no reason for the abridged version to exist, as Ebenezer is a fairly well known tune in its own right.
"The Church's One Foundation" omits the "Though with a scornful wonder" verse, which I always thought was something that only more conservative hymnals do.
Just like the United Methodist Hymnal, only the refrain of Amy Grant's "El Shaddai" is included, and footnoted with translations of the Hebrew. Unlike that book, they do the thuddingly stupid idea of taking just the chorus of "Thy Word" and repeating repeating repeating it in higher and higher keys. (Again, two short verses. The two congregations I've heard sing this over the years had no trouble with that.) Also like the Methodist book, only the first verse of "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" is included, and only the refrain of "Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus" is printed. However, "Fill My Cup, Lord" is complete.
Oddly, despite "My Tribute" being complete, "Through It All" has only the refrain.