NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The mystery is over. The songs going in the new Baptist Hymnal have been chosen.
“Amazing Grace” is there, of course. So is “Holy, Holy, Holy.” So are “Sanctuary” and “Shout to the Lord.”
“There is a good mix of hymns, worship music and praise choruses,” said Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship, a part of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. “We have composers from Beethoven to Fanny Crosby to Travis Cottrell represented in this hymnal.”
The new hymnal has 674 hymns and worship songs. “About 300 of these songs are new ones to our hymnal,” Harland said. “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.”
The full list of the songs is available at www.lifewayworship.com.
“The selection process was arduous,” Harland said. “There are many hymns and worship songs that are wonderful, spiritually uplifting songs, but our task was to choose the best, most theologically sound songs we could.”
An additional 250 titles are included in the WorshipCharts, WorshipTracks and selected WorshipMedia accompaniment editions.
Because the theology of the hymns and songs is so critical, a committee made up of theologians and musician/theologians looked at every hymn to make certain the theology was trustworthy before the song moved forward to the next level of consideration.
Jon Duncan, state music director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, served as leader of the theological overview committee.
“The hymnal is more than a ‘song book’ to meet a utilitarian need for the congregant,” Duncan said. “This hymnal, as with past editions of the Baptist Hymnal, serves many functions, including providing a historical document of doctrinal beliefs of the family of faith known as Baptists.”
Each song’s suitability was based on these questions:
–- Does the hymn speak biblically of God?
— Is it God-honoring?
— Does the hymn present a biblical view of man?
— Does the song help us to cover the depth and breadth of our theology?
-– Does the hymn call us to true discipleship, service, repentance, witness, missions and devotion?
-– Does the hymn speak biblically of salvation?
-– Does it engage the whole person -– allowing a person to express his deepest feelings?
-– Does the hymn emphasize that Christ is the Christian’s Lord, Master and King? (the idea of total submission).
-– Does the hymn present an Americanized/Westernized gospel? (civil religion).
-– Is there a balance with corporate and individual response in worship? (immanence and transcendence).
“I believe that, along with most Baptists, my theology was shaped through the singing of hymns,” Duncan said. “The teaching impact through singing our hymns cannot be understated.”
LifeWay already is processing orders for the new Baptist Hymnal and offering a discount to churches preordering the pew edition before its release. The hymnals will ship on or before Aug. 8.
“There is an excitement from the churches about the new hymnal,” Harland said. “Despite what seems to be a trend, a vast majority of our churches still use hymnals.”
Polly House is a corporate communications specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources.