The new Book of Praise (3)
When it comes to the hymns of the new Book of Praise, you will notice several changes. There has been a modest expansion to eighty-five hymns. When General Synod Neerlandia gave the committee the mandate to consider such an expansion, and when the committee then completed a survey of the then current hymnary, it was rather surprised to notice that there were only four hymns specific to the resurrection of Christ. This was surprising considering that the resurrection victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over death, sin and Satan is the high point of our faith and worship. We celebrate that not only on Easter but on every Lord’s day. The number of Easter hymns has been doubled to eight.
The expansion of the hymnary implied the renumbering of the hymns. Some have asked why the hymns of the Augment that were included could not just have been added to the end as numbers 66-85? This could not be done as it is important to keep the topics in order and the hymns of each topic together. For the topical index, please see pages 356-57.
Many of the hymns have been modernized by changing the pronouns referring to God from archaic to modern though just as many have been left untouched. What were the criteria? It is difficult to be flawlessly consistent, but the intention was to leave classic hymns alone while the committee felt free to update hymns that were created by our own poets or which are canticles (i.e., songs based on passages of scripture other than Psalms). Hymns protected by copyright may not be altered. As examples, I can mention the following:
1. “O God, our Help in Ages Past” is a classic hymn that ought not to be altered.
2. “Blest be the God of Israel” is a canticle, and so the committee felt it could be updated.
3. “Great is thy Faithfulness” is protected by copyright and, thus, may not be altered.
The music of a few of the hymns has also been changed, but I will write about that next week.