Saturday, September 15, 2007

FOREWORD (to Book of Praise: Augment to Hymnary, 2007)

The Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise is pleased to present the 28 hymns provisionally approved by General Synod Smithers, 2007, for testing in the churches.

A few words of explanation, about how the committee arrived at proposing these particular hymns, are in order. The committee was guided by two criteria as more than 500 hymns were reviewed. First, the hymns had to meet the principles and guidelines adopted by Synod Chatham, 2004. These can be found elsewhere in this booklet. Second, proposed hymns had to fortify those parts of the hymnary that, arguably, need strengthening. A careful inventory was performed of the ten categories of songs in the present collection of 65 hymns (see pages 312-313 of the Book of Praise). Seven of the ten categories were augmented:

1. "We praise Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," increased from four to eight.
2. "…He spoke by holy men of old," no increase from the present eight.
3. "The Word became incarnate," no increase from the present six.
4. "Thou has redeemed us by Thy blood," no increase from the present five.
5. "Christ has risen! Hallelujah!," increased from four to eight.
6. "The Lord ascended up on high," increased from six to eight.
7. "He has come, the Holy Spirit!," increased from three to four.
8. "Watch o'er Thy Church, O Lord…," increased from ten to nineteen.
9. "Come, Lord Jesus! Maranatha!," increased from eight to fifteen.
10. "All glory be to Thee, Most High," increased from eight to twelve.

When the committee performed its inventory it was surprised to note that the present Book of Praise has only four hymns in the category "Christ has risen! Hallelujah!"—hence the doubling of the "Easter" hymns. The eighth category, "Watch o'er Thy Church, O Lord…," was significantly augmented because of the many topics covered in this category. Of the nine hymns proposed for this section, two are about the holy supper, three about baptism, two about the church, and two about marriage. The latter were added to give couples some more choice from among "our own" hymns for their marriage ceremonies.

The question has been raised how these proposed hymns should be tested in the churches. Since synod specifically said that the songs may be sung in the worship services, the committee is so bold as to suggest that the congregations sing one or two of the hymns before each service and that hymns also be incorporated in the liturgy of the service as appropriate.

Synod Smithers requested the churches to send comments to the committee by April 30, 2009 so that a final proposal on the hymn section can be made to Synod 2010. Members of the churches are invited to send their comments through their consistories. We look forward to receiving feedback. The committee asks that comments and suggestions be addressed either to bookofpraise"at" or:

Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise
c/o Theological College
110 West 27th Street
Hamilton, Ontario L9C 5A1

Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done—Psalm 9:11.

The committee:
Rev. D.G.J. Agema; Dr. N.H. Gootjes; Mr. C.J. Nobels, secretary; Dr. C. van Halen-Faber; Rev. G.Ph. van Popta, chairman.