Universalist hymns for a choir

I just got an email asking:

I am looking for a few Universalist hymnals — with words and music (preferably parts) for our small a cappella choir performances.

Any suggestions you could give me on titles, sources, etc. would be

This was my reply:

Depends on how formal the litugical style you want. By far and away, the most popular hymnal of the postbellum period was the somewhat folksy Church Harmonies, and I’m sure there are zillions of copies in different editions left in church attics and basements, especially in Maine, I’d guess. Try, too, Ebay: I’ve gotten two copies from it, paying about $6 a piece.

If you want something more formal, try the less-popular 1917 Hymns of the Church or the 1937 joint Unitarian and Universalist Hymns of the Spirit. The later, kept in print until 1981 and known as “the red hymnal” will be easier to find. Perhaps an older church in your area. Hymns of the Spirit also has a good selection of populist Universalist standards in the back — hymn 546 onward — that “do not enter into the general scheme of the book” (read: “They’re lowbrow.” But don’t believe that.)

If you’re looking for something with more historic (antebellum) interest, you’d do well to get (Ebay again) a copy of Hymns for Christian Devotion, the Gospel Liturgy, or Hosea Ballou II or Streeter’s Universalist Collections. Expect to pay about $20 for any of these, and you’ll have to set them to a period tune since all are words-only hymnals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.