Open Hymnal

Over the years I cannot count the number of times that people visiting our church have remarked about the volume and joy in the singing of the congregation. It seems it is becoming more remarkable than ever these days because people are used to the volume coming from speakers echoing the singing of a group of singers and a band on a stage rather than from voices of the congregation. And often in these other settings, when they look around them they see hardly anyone in the congregation actually singing. Instead, it seems, they are there more to be entertained than to actually lift up their own voices in praise. One reason for the difference is that our church, and other churches like it, still uses hymnals rather than projecting the songs onto a screen. In our case, this is partly due to the limitations of our little church building, but, as it turns out, it has actually helped us in ways we didn’t recognize for a while, but which visitors or new members recognize and are encouraged by. Anyway, I ran across this old post by Tim Challies today, and it resonated with me. Perhaps it will be meaningful to some of you as well. The article is entitled What We Lost When We Lost Our Hymnals, and I think it is a worthwhile read. It certainly gives us all something to think about, and I think we really ought to think about it.

In closing this brief post, I want to make it clear that I am not necessarily opposed to projecting songs onto a screen, and our church may do this someday as well. However, I am opposed to any practice that discourages the joyful, full-throated participation of the congregation in singing praises to the Lord, and I would want to be careful to ensure that we don’t undermine this important aspect of worship when adopting some of the newer methods or technologies. As always, I welcome your feedback.

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