A new United Church digital hymnbook is in the works, and co-ordinator Alydia Smith says Then Let Us Sing! will include 150 new songs that are “intercultural, that reflect the world and the issues that the church is wrestling with, like climate change.”
Smith and her working group of about 30 people started the project in the lead-up to the United Church’s 100th anniversary in 2025, asking themselves, “What sort of hymn resource do we need for the new millennium?” They surveyed church members, held focus groups, spoke to ecumenical partners and then decided to create an expanded multi-denominational online musical resource with a printed supplement.
“Having an online resource provides tremendous flexibility for congregations in worship, including the ability to update it with new music,” says Smith, who is the national coordinator for the Church in Mission Unit.
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The new hymns will be presented in many languages, making it easier for people “to sing in the language of your heart,” Smith says. The online resource will also include 1,300 much-loved traditional hymns.
Partnering with Smith’s team are the United Church of Christ (U.S.A.) and the Anglican and Presbyterian churches of Canada. The group is also in conversation with the Canadian Mennonites. “We realized that borders don’t matter. What matters is finding partners who share our ethics and ethos,” Smith says.
A sampler will be available in late 2022, and the full project — including web content, educational pieces, workshops and a book tour — will be launched in 2024.
Rev. Christopher White is a minister at Kedron United in Oshawa, Ont.
This story first appeared in Broadview’s January/February 2022 issue with the title “A Digital Hymnbook is on The Way.”
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Alydia Smith says Then Let Us Sing! will include 150 new songs that are “intercultural, that reflect the world and the issues that the church is wrestling with, like climate change.”
If we look at the proper meaning of "hymnos" we see it that is a musical "praise" to gods and mighty men. Please explain how "world issues" are "gods", or have we reduced our God as such?
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Ephesians 5:19 that hymns are for edification. How can we edify each other when dwelling on "hard times"?
“We realized that borders don’t matter. What matters is finding partners who share our ethics and ethos,” Smith says.
Are the hymns we sing able to Glorify God? Is not our time together to worship God? We cannot do this if we are focusing on the world around us. Worship is focused on giving thanks to God for what He has done for us, and to give Him the reverence He deserves.
If the hymns are from "our" view of "ethics and ethos", we will fail in worshipping God. Because we are naturally self-centered. Hymns need to be in relation to God's view of our "ethics and ethos" and I can safely say it isn't always a pretty picture.