If everything falls apart in the United Methodist Church, and one side claims one of the flames, and the other side claims the other, I was wondering:
What do we do with the hymnal? The United Methodist Hymnal that has been our guide in worship, at least for English speakers, since, what, 1989? That’s 30 years of worship — is it now up in the air, too?
A lot’s changed in those 30 years. Lots of American Methodists don’t even pull their hymnals out any more, grudgingly accepting the ease of words on the screen. Many others have traded in the old standards for almost-as-old “contemporary” hymns. There are new songs for new generations, and strangely enough, new music based on old standards.
Time has passed, but the hymnal has endured for a good long while, along with two other United Methodist hymnals, Mil Voces Para Celebrar: Himnario Metodista (published in 1996) and Come, Let Us Worship: The Korean-English United Methodist Hymnal (published in 2000). (Wikipedia)
If the denomination splits, do we have to split up our hymnals, too? How would that even work?
“You guys can have ‘O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,’ but we get ‘Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”
“You can take Word and Table II, but we get to keep Baptismal Covenant I.”
Or maybe the Holy Spirit appears, with a list of hymns neither side gets to sing anymore, including:
“Oh Church of God, United” (547)
“Let Us Break Bread Together” (618)
“Help Us Accept Each Other” (560)
“In Christ There Is No East or West” (548)
I vote for none of the above options, of course. I pray instead that the Holy Spirit guides us out of these treacherous waters with truth and justice.
As we struggle along, maybe we can find some common ground in the common songs of our tradition. Music has the power to amplify voices of hope and peace.
Who knows? If we’re loud enough, and bold enough, maybe God will hear
The Faith We Sing.
Have a great week,