Bishops: Revise Hymnal Too

By Zachary Guiliano

The House of Bishops approved creating a revision process for The Hymnal 1982 on Friday morning.

The resolution asks “the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of the Hymnal 1982” and requests $25,000 for the project.

Bishop Daniel Martins of Springfield was the only bishop to speak against the resolution, and he cited three reasons.

First, he mentioned that Church Publishing had conducted “an extensive survey” to see if anyone had a desire to see the Hymnal revised. A majority did not.

Second, he reminded the House that “the SCLM is already drinking from a fire hose” because of General Convention resolutions. The commission has been asked to establish a process for revising the Book of Common Prayer, to revise the Book of Occasional Services, and to review dozens of saints for potential inclusion in A Great Cloud of Witnesses.

Third, he questioned whether, given the availability of electronic resources for church music, the church should publish a new hymnal, when it already has three (Hymnal 1982, Lift Every Voice and Sing II, and Wonder, Love, and Praise).

Other bishops spoke in favor of the resolution. Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington expressed her sense that it is “important to be coherent” in revision: if the church is to revise the Book of Common Prayer, it ought to revise the Hymnal as well.

The House of Bishops passed the resolution, but its approval now depends on the House of Deputies.

Image of Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal adapted from Trinity Church, Rutland, Vermont

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