“The Future of Congregational Song” is an article at Hymnary.org that lays out the history and questionable future of the printed hymnal. It includes theological notes about singing in worship, and introduces the option of mobile devices as an alternative to projected music.
One Reply to “Hymnary.org: “The Future of Congregational Song””
Hymnals are a bigger issue than I think anybody gives credit for. Hymnals carry huge amounts of theology into a congregation’s practice. Changes in hymnals (say the transition from the UUA “Red Hymnal” to the present hymnal) signalled a theological shift from Liberal Christian to Post-Christian. And not only signalled the shift, but provided a feedback loop that nudged/shoved UU congregations allong the Post-Christian trajectory.
But what does it mean if congregations are not using hymnals? Recently I visited a large UCC church in the Ohio. 500 members. 3 services on Sunday. They don’t use hymnals, but instead use projector screens displaying the hymn lyrics. And it was clear that their hymn choices were things far removed from the present UCC hymnal. In some sense liberal, but also quasi-Evangelical gospel songs.
What does this portend for shared, denominational, theological identity? Does the theology carried by hymns now become entirely based on local mix-and-match choices? Does this strengthen local autonomy? Are any of these things good or bad?
Hard for me to say. And that doesn’t even get into some of the complex issues of hymnals vs. projector screens; and the pragmatic issues of how we engage in congregational worship through songs.