Baptist Hymnal 2008

While this article might be old news, I just came across it a few weeks ago and thought that it was interesting.  The Baptist Press published an aritcle on Oct. 9, 2007 that LifeWay is publishing a revised Baptist Hymnal to come out in 2008.  Here are a few interesting quotes from the article:

  • “We began our look at the hymns and songs with the new additions to the Baptist Hymnal,” Harland said. “The new hymnal will have about 650 songs included, and about 300 of these songs will be new ones to our hymnal. Of these 300, about 200 have been published in other hymnals and about 100 are brand-new hymns and songs that haven’t been published in any hymnal before.”
  • In a separate interview with Joe Duncan, he was asked the question, “Why be so particular/precise about the theology in the hymns?”  He responded, “The hymnal is more than a “song book” to meet a utilitarian need for the congregants. This hymnal, as with past Baptist Hymnals, serves many functions, including providing a historical document of doctrinal beliefs of the family of faith known as Baptists. Our major concern is that the hymnal represents a truly “Christocentric” (Christ-centered) and Trinitarian theology. While Baptists reflect many theological systems, nearly all can find agreement that our theology is first and foremost Christocentric. Our aim is that this hymnal, as with past ones, speaks accurately of Jesus Christ — fully God, fully man and the only means to salvation.”

As each reviewer walks through each hymn up for addition, they are checking the song’s suitability based on a series of 11 questions including: Is it God honoring? Does it cover the depth and breadth of our theology? Does it engage the whole person – allowing a person to express his deepest feelings? Does the hymn speak biblically about the church? etc . . .

Personally, I like hymns.  When I went to the mission field, I took a Baptist Hymnal with me.  I like the organ and like to sing most hymns.  However, I am also a fan of contemporary music, but not the short & sweet praise choruses.  Beth and I both really enjoy the music coming out of Sovereign Grace and also the work Keith and Kristen Getty have produced.  Hymns seem to tell stories; they teach us along with providing words for us to express our worship to God.  So when I came across this story, I was intrigued.  But I have to wonder this, which 300 songs will be removed to make room for these new 300 coming in?  But this led me to further pondering the use of the Hymnal.  In our church here in da ‘Ville, we have Hymnals in each pew, but we never use them.  All of our songs are up on the screen, even the hymns that we sing.  Occasionally, you will see a few people use the Hymnal, but not many.

So, is the Hymnal relevant?  Well, the article does mention that the first part of the process will be a “downloadable audio hymn and worship song repository from which the updated hardbound Baptist Hymnal will be drawn” which I would assume churches could then use to upload on the screen.  However, for those who do not, will they ‘upgrade’ to the new hymnal?  How much would it cost your average SBC church to buy all new 2008 Baptist Hymnals?  And if some of these are quite traditional (you know, the ones who know every hymn and it’s number), will they be willing to change to a new hymnal and even try out new songs?  Just some questions that have popped into my mind over the past few weeks as I have been thinking about this change to come.  Let me know your thoughts if you have any . . .

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6 thoughts on “Baptist Hymnal 2008

  1. I have had some of the same questions popping up in my mind after finding out about the new plans to update the Baptist Hymnal.

    I thought it was interesting to find out that the Baptists have been updating the hymnal every 15 years or so since 1904. When I pondered this fact, it came to my mind that we are not the first generation which a hymnal change has impacted. I wonder if the feelings and questions we are having are similar to those who faced an update in ’91 and the years preceding that date in which there was a hymnal change.

    Perhaps this issue is but part of a grander concept of the changing music of Christ’s church…from the gregorian chants to counterpuntal compositions to four part harmonies to gospel to contemporary…I would like to see an approach that keeps and reveres that which has been handed down to us by our spiritual predecesors as well as embraces new ways of musically expressing our faith…maybe that is what the new hymnal is trying to accomplish. One can only hope.

  2. Pingback: Baptist Hymnal 2008 - update « Ramblings, Thoughts, and What We Think . . .

  3. Hymnals…one of the things I love to collect. It reveals the rich musical heritage of the Christian world. Regardless of your denomination, hymns and songs all are called upon to with stand the one true test…time. While some rue the advent of contemporary music, I say, “don’t worry…if they are good enough to withstand the test of time, what’s the big deal? A more important concern are those who only want the new, the fresh, the modern and at their own peril ignore the compostions that have and still do stand the test of time… really troubles me when we forget from whence we come. Sing a balanced diet. Your church will be the better for it, whether they open a hymnal or look at a screen…

  4. I am trying to find online a copy of the 2008 Baptist Hymnal of the Southern Bapits Convention. But have failed to find it for sale. It contains a great hymn, “Worth of woship, worthy of praise” and we need to music. Can you help? Thanks

  5. Marcus, I know this is extremely late (I found this blog post while googling for something else), but if you’re still on the hunt, The Baptist Hymnal (1991) also has “Worthy of Worship” by Terry York and Mark Blankenship.

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